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Brussels, 30 November 2011

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Strategic Innovation Agenda – Frequently Asked Questions


What is the EIT?

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was set up in 2008 at the initiative of the European Commission and is an autonomous EU body stimulating world-class innovation. It brings together excellent higher education institutions, research centres and businesses and aims to achieve its objective through a pioneering concept of cross-border public-private-partnerships known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The EIT has its administrative headquarters (in Budapest) while the KICs operate from 16 sites throughout Europe, from Barcelona to Stockholm. To date, three KICs have been created, focusing on sustainable energy (InnoEnergy KIC), climate change (Climate KIC) and information and communication society (ICT Labs).

What is the Commission's vision for the EIT?

The aim is for the EIT to create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and ensure that the European 'knowledge triangle' is a match for the world's best. Its KICs focus on major societal challenges and the Institute acts as a catalyst for the take-up and exploitation of new technologies and research.

The EIT and its KICs are set up in a way which ensures that red-tape is kept to the minimum and that they have the flexibility to adapt quickly to new or emerging needs, so that they can deliver effective results. The Commission wants the EIT to be a model for simplification.

Students, researchers and entrepreneurs are at the heart of its innovation drive. Its education dimension creates new opportunities for career development and pathways between academia and the private sector.

Its first KICs have been operating for a relatively short period but have already demonstrated their impact and value: in just one year, six start-up companies have been created, and 50 more are in the pipeline; around 700 Master's degree and PhD students have or are presently enrolled on KIC-branded courses.

By 2020, the Commission expects the EIT to provide an impetus for creating up to 600 start-up companies and for training around 25 000 students and 10 000 PhDs in new curricula, combining excellent science with a strong entrepreneurship component.

How much funding is the Commission proposing that the EIT will receive in 2014-2020?

The EIT has received €309 million from the EU budget since its launch. As part of its Horizon 2020 proposal, the Commission envisages significantly stepping up its support for the EIT, with a budget of €2.8 billion1 in 2014-2020.

The budget is being increased to enable the first three KICs to consolidate and grow, and to pave the way for the creation of six new KICs by 2018. These would focus on: Healthy Living, Raw Materials, Food for the Future (to be created in 2014); Urban Mobility, Added Value Manufacturing, and Smart Secure Societies (to be set up in 2018).

On average, the EIT contributes up to 25% of the global KIC budget. The amount distributed to each KIC may vary, since the budgetary needs of each differs. The final budget allocation depends on the specific business plans of each KIC and its development.

How will the EIT secure funding from other sources?

The EIT funding model builds on the strengths and resources of the partners involved in the KICs. 25% of the funding of the EIT and its KICs is provided by the European Union; the remainder will mostly come from the KIC partners themselves.

Initial experience has shown a very high level of commitment from industrial partners. The KICs have also managed received additional funding from national and regional public money. The German government for example has decided to allocate €50 million over a 5-year period to the management of the "Software Campus" education initiative by the ICT Labs KIC.

What is the EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA)?

This is the Commission's proposed framework strategy for the EIT in the years to come. The aim is to significantly enhance the EIT's impact across Europe.

The experiences of the KICs – both best practices but also lessons learned – will be shared, so others can heed them. The Commission will set up systems to boost this knowledge sharing through fellowship schemes, an alumni network and a stakeholder forum. These measures would be complemented by efforts to make the governance of the EIT more efficient and by putting in place a new monitoring system to assess the performance of the EIT and the KICs. The monitoring system will enable the EIT to benchmark its performance against its own objectives and best practices at European and global level.

The Commission is proposing to reduce the number of EIT governing board members. Why?

The number of members on the board will be reduced from 22 to 10. The EIT's business-oriented approach requires efficient, quick and focused decision-making. A reduced governing board with a stronger focus on strategic guidance is a fundamental step in this direction, as underlined by the independent external evaluation carried out earlier this year and was also proposed by the EIT governing board itself. A scaled-down board will lead to more effective and efficient decision-making, whilst keeping administrative overheads to a minimum.

What is being done to make the EIT more attractive for business, especially SMEs?

While preserving the EIT's necessary flexibility, the Commission has proposed measures to streamline the EIT's decision-making and implementing procedures. The themes for new KICs were selected according to their potential for creating new business opportunities.

Business involvement in the EIT and its KICs is already significant and increasing. To date, the KICs involve nearly 200 partners, of which 75 (nearly 40%) are business organisations. The Climate-KIC, for instance, involves a large number of regional SMEs. Industrial partners contribute around a third of the InnoEnergy KIC's budget, which totals €290 million. In the case of the ICT Labs KIC, the budget share from industrial partners is 20%.

Companies – both large multinationals and SMEs – are especially attracted by the EIT’s business-oriented approach to innovation, as well as its focus on flexibility and efforts to ensure simpler and clearer rules.

How were the themes for the six new KICs selected? What criteria were used to define their scope?

The draft Strategic innovation Agenda submitted to the Commission by the EIT governing board in June 2011 was the basis for selecting the themes of the new KICs. In parallel, criteria were developed to ensure an objective assessment of the innovation potential offered by each proposed future theme. These criteria were assessed with the wider innovation community through a public consultation.

The themes focus on societal challenges. In providing innovation and economic potential, the existing and new KICs will contribute to the goals of Horizon 2020 and the Europe 2020 agenda for jobs and sustainable growth.

What is the role of the EIT within Horizon 2020?

Within Horizon 2020, the EIT will play an important role by combining excellent research, education and innovation.

The EIT will be part of the "tackling societal challenges" objective, complementing other initiatives as part of the wider strategy. It will also contribute to "industrial leadership and competitive frameworks" by stimulating results-driven research and fostering the creation of innovative SMEs with high-growth potential. The EIT further contributes to the creation of an "excellent science base" by fostering mobility across disciplines, sectors and countries.

Horizon 2020 provides the necessary simplification and flexibility to ensure that the EIT can fully exploit its innovation potential, showcase new approaches and attract the business community. It encourages the EIT to make full use of its autonomy so that it can respond quickly to new or emerging needs.

1 :

€3.2 billion taking account of estimated inflation in 2014-2020

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