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MEMO/08/153

Brussels, 11 March 2008

The EIT: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The European Parliament adopted today the Regulation establishing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The next steps include appointing the EIT's Governing Board by June 2008 and establishing the first two or three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) towards end of 2009. Below is a list of frequently asked questions on the EIT.

1. Why a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)?

The EIT represents a unique opportunity to boost Europe's innovation potential. Furthermore, it is itself an innovative concept which for the first time will provide a framework at European level to pool together the best scientific, business and education resources. To reflect the importance of innovation at all levels of its activity, the Institute will be known as the "European Institute of Innovation and Technology" although its acronym (EIT) will remain unchanged.

2. What is the contribution of the EIT to the European Union's innovation strategy?

Innovation is a vital precondition for increasing Europe's competitiveness in the world economy. The Lisbon agenda for Growth and Jobs has assigned a high priority to innovation. The EIT will help to face the challenges of globalisation by pooling business, research organisations and universities and by providing an environment that enables them to unlock their innovation potential.

3. Where will the EIT's headquarters be located?

The decision concerning the seat of the EIT is expected to be taken at political level by the European Council no later than 12 months after the adoption of the Regulation establishing the EIT. It is possible that the decision may be taken as early as June 2008.

4. How will the EIT be organised?

The EIT's structure will be based on a new, innovative governance model. On the one hand, the EIT Governing Board will provide strategic guidance, coordination, stimulation and facilitation of dialogue between partner institutions. On the other, highly integrated partnerships known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) will enjoy autonomy and flexibility in the delivery and dissemination of results and good practices. Independent and non-bureaucratic, the EIT will be supported by a lean administrative structure for greater efficiency.

5. How will the EIT's Governing Board (GB) be appointed?

The EIT's first Governing Board will be appointed by an ad-hoc "Identification Committee" set up by the Commission in January 2008. The Committee comprises four prominent European professionals of unquestionable independence, providing a balance of relevant expertise from across the EU, in order to guarantee the legitimacy and credibility of the selection process.

The identification process will be broken down into two phases in order to render it as objective as possible. During the first phase, the Committee shall devise selection criteria for potential members and consult relevant European organisations on their pertinence. The second phase will culminate in a list of potential candidates matching the chosen criteria.

Both phases will be carried out via online consultations on the EIT's new website (see the answer to Question 17 below).

The appointments will be formally made by the Commission having informed the European Parliament and the Council on the outcome of the selection process.

6. What is the composition and role of the Governing Board?

The Governing Board will be composed of eighteen high-calibre independent personalities providing a balance of expertise from the worlds of business, research and higher education.

The Governing Board will be responsible for setting the overall strategic priorities of the EIT and for selecting Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) to address them. It will evaluate their progress towards the agreed objectives and coordinate their work in the strategic areas concerned.

7. What will be the nature of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs)?

The Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) are long-term, integrated partnerships comprising universities, research organisations and businesses. Their objectives will be laid down on a contractual basis with the EIT but they will have a high level of autonomy in terms of how they organise themselves, how they manage any Intellectual Property generated and how they meet the agreed objectives. They will fully integrate the innovation, research and education dimensions and each one will last for between 7-15 years.

8. How will the KICs be selected?

The selection of KICs will be based on a competitive, open and transparent procedure. The EIT Governing Board will adopt selection criteria based on the principles of excellence and relevance to innovation. These criteria will be made public and external, independent experts will be involved in the selection process. Universities, research institutions and businesses interested in applying should therefore monitor closely the future decisions of the Governing Board on this point.

9. When will the first KICs be selected and in which fields?

The first two or three KICs will be selected within a period of 18 months after the appointment of the Governing Board, in interdisciplinary areas covering current and future challenges such as climate change, renewable energies and the next generation of information and communication technologies.

10. Will KICs be able to participate in Community Programmes?

KICs should be able to apply for funding from Community programmes in accordance with their respective rules, criteria and objectives and on an equal footing with other applicants in order to avoid preferential treatment.

11. Can partners from non-European countries participate?

Subject to the prior approval of the Governing Board, the KICs are open for participation of actors from non-Member States as long as the majority of partner organisations forming the KIC is established in EU Member States.

12. Will the EIT deliver degrees and diplomas?

The KICs will undertake education and training activities at Masters and Doctoral levels relevant to the innovation process. The degrees and diplomas obtained through the KICs will be awarded by participating universities in accordance with national rules and accreditation procedures and may also be labelled as "EIT" degrees. The EIT shall encourage participating higher education institutions to award joint or multiple degrees and diplomas, reflecting the integrated nature of the KICs.

13. What is the EIT's legal status?

The EIT will be a European Community body with its own legal personality.

14. How will the EIT be financed?

The Council and the European Parliament agreed on 23rd November 2007 on the revision of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MAFF) to cater for the financing needs of both the EIT and GALILEO. The Community contribution to the EIT will amount to € 308.7 million for the 2008-2013 period. It will be used to finance the costs arising from the establishment, administration, coordination and integration of the EIT and the KICs.

In addition to Community financing, the EIT aims to attract a significant amount of funding from private sources. An EIT foundation will be set up to manage donations. Private contributions are expected to rise as the EIT builds up a global reputation and develops relations with private institutions.

15. What will be the role of business?

Business expertise will be fully represented in the Governing Board, which will pilot the EIT's strategic investments. Businesses will be an integral partner within the “Knowledge and Innovation Communities” in order to ensure the commercial use of knowledge outcomes and they will also have a role in defining education activities which should incorporate innovation management and entrepreneurial elements as integral features. Small and medium-sized enterprises will naturally be invited to become partner organisations in KICs, like any other private company.

16. What are the next steps?

April 2008: the EIT Regulation enters into force.

June 2008: appointment of the EIT's Governing Board and possible European Council decision on the location of the EIT's headquarters.

End 2009: establishment of the first two to three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

17. Where can I obtain further information?

Further information can be obtained via the EIT's new website, which was launched on Monday 10th March. The website includes the latest news on the EIT, background information and links to official documents.

The public consultation for the selection of the EIT's initial Governing Board is currently taking place online on the same site (see the answer to Question 5 above).

EIT website :

ec.europa.eu/eit/


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