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Brussels, 15 September 2008

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) begins its work

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU's flagship initiative for boosting innovation in Europe, marks the launch of its activities with the first meeting of its recently appointed Governing Board. The meeting, which takes place today in the Institute's host city of Budapest, will be preceded by a ceremonial opening in the presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', among others.

"I am very pleased that the EIT formally begins its work today", said Commission President José Manuel Barroso. "By attracting and retaining the best and most talented students, researchers and staff from across Europe, and worldwide, the EIT will bring significant value-added to the EU's research and innovation landscape. It will become a breeding ground for new ideas and help turning innovative ideas into reality. It is a milestone towards the fifth freedom – the free movement of knowledge. The involvement of business is crucial, because the lack of business-funded R&D explains almost 85% of the gap between the EU and the USA, for example. Over time the EIT will contribute to boost Research and Development in Europe, close the business-funding gap, and bring the proportion of GDP spent on R&D closer to the 3% target that the Member States have set themselves."

The Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr Ferenc Gyurcsany said, “Talent and knowledge are ‘natural resources’ or ‘raw materials’ available in all countries of Europe. With the help of EIT we are going to be able to utilize them more effectively than ever before so that every citizen of the EU could benefit from them.”

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology is a major EU initiative which aims to foster excellence in European innovation and to provide new solutions for major challenges, such as climate change, renewable energies or the next generation of information and communication technologies (MEMO/08/153).

In order to achieve its ambitious objectives, the EIT has been equipped with a fully independent, high-level Governing Board. It is responsible for guiding the EIT's strategic orientation and for selecting, monitoring and evaluating the EIT's operational base, the so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities. The Board's 18 Members come from the worlds of business, higher education and research, and have all a proven track record in top-level innovation (IP/08/1220).

At its first meeting in Budapest, the Board is expected to take a number of major decisions determining the EIT's operation, among them the election of the Chairperson and of the four other members of the Executive Committee. Moreover, the Board will discuss first steps towards the selection of the first 2-3 Knowledge and Innovation Communities by early 2010.

In addition to the Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', the meeting will also be attended by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Jósef Pálinkás, the Minister without portfolio responsible for research and development, Károly Molnár, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, the Minister of Higher Education and Research and representative of the French Presidency, Mme Valérie Pécresse, as well as the Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Mr László Kovács,

EIT Website :

FAQs about the EIT:

Press release announcing appointment of the EIT Governing Board:

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