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European Commission - Press release

EIT team reaches finals of anti-poverty business competition

Brussels, 25 April - A team representing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will compete in the final of one of the world's leading business competitions in New York City on 26 April. The five-strong team, who will present a project aimed at boosting the use of solar power in Africa, received a "good luck" message from EU Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, on the eve of their participation in the anti-poverty HULT Global Case Challenge.

Thousands of students, representing over 130 countries and six continents, competed across five cities and online to reach the final, which takes place at New York Public Library in the presence of former US President Bill Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. The Clinton Global Initiative will receive $1 million (approximately 800 000) to implement the best project.

In her message to the team, Commissioner Vassiliou said: "When creating the EIT, Europe wished to promote the innovation capacity of students like you so they can bring concrete answers to modern societal challenges. Your success in this competition is also a success for this new approach to innovation in Europe of which you are the first ambassadors."

Team spokesperson Vincenzo Capogna, 24, an Italian energy engineering graduate from La Sapienza University in Rome, said: "The idea of our project is to eradicate kerosene in Africa by the end of the decade. Our aim is to launch a pilot in Kenya, where the market is ripe for solar lighting. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the barriers to the mass adoption of this technology must be brought down. The greatest of these barriers is access to finance."

Vincenzo and the other team members are all post-graduate students on the SELECT Master program, an Erasmus Mundus double degree run by KTH Technical University in Stockholm and UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) in Barcelona. The course is sponsored by the European Union and the EIT's 'InnoEnergy' hub.

The other team members are: Francesco Fuso Nerini, 24, an Italian environmental engineering graduate from Polimi (Politecnico di Milano); Eduardo Maria Appleyard (captain), 30, who studied mechanical engineering at McGill University (Montreal); Eric Bowler, 26, a mechanical engineering graduate from Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana); and Oisin Tummon, 24, who studied mechanical engineering at UCT University (Cape Town).

Background

The 'KIC InnoEnergy' team reached the finals after taking part in a regional heat in London. Although they did not win the regional final, they subsequently took part in a 'second chance' online contest and won through to New York.

European Institute of Innovation and Technology

The core mission of the EIT, which was established in 2008 as an autonomous EU body, is to promote the competitiveness of Member States by bringing together excellent higher education institutions, research centres and businesses to focus on major societal challenges. It aims to achieve its objective through cross-border innovation hubs, known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

The European Commission has proposed a budget of €2.8 billion in the next financial framework to enable the EIT to create six new KICS in addition to its three initial hubs which focus on climate change, sustainable energy (KIC InnoEnergy) and ICT (see IP/11/1479).

The EIT 'Strategic Innovation Agenda', which defines the framework for the Institute's operations in the years to come, envisages creating up to 600 start-up companies and training 25 000 Masters' students and 10 000 PhDs in new curricula combining excellent science with a strong entrepreneurship component

The EIT has an administrative headquarters in Budapest while the KICs operate from 16 sites throughout Europe.

EIT website

Video report on EIT team at the London regional final

Video on future of the EIT

KIC InnoEnergy site

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Twitter: @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58), Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)


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