What's New in the EU: The EIT

The European Institute of Innovation and Technologyis aims to become a flagship for excellence in European innovation.

€ sign The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is a new initiative that aims to become a flagship for excellence in European innovation to face the challenges of globalization. Although Europe already has good education and research institutions, their representatives are often isolated from the business world and do not obtain the "critical mass" necessary for innovation. The EIT is the first European initiative to aim at integrating fully the three sides of the "knowledge triangle" - higher education, research and business innovation. It will seek to stand out as a world-class innovation-orientated reference model, inspiring and driving change in existing education and research institutions. By boosting the EU's capacity to transform education and research results into tangible commercial innovation opportunities, the EIT hopes to further bridge the innovation gap between the EU and its major international competitors. The EIT should favor sustainable economic growth and job creation throughout the EU by generating new products, services and markets, responding both to public demand and to the needs of the knowledge economy. Based on partnerships known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), which are highly integrated public-private networks of universities, research organizations and businesses, the EIT's activities will be coordinated by a governing board ensuring its strategic management. Direct involvement of business stakeholders, including PMEs, in all strategic, operational and financial aspects of the institute is the cornerstone of the initiative. Operating across Europe, the KICs will be selected by the EIT governing board on a strategic basis as responses to the foremost challenges currently facing the EU. The first areas to be covered by the institute are likely to include climate change, renewable energies and the next generation of information and communication technologies. The governing board will draft seven-year Strategic Innovation Agendas (SIAs), outlining the EIT's long-term priorities and financial needs. The first SIA will be presented by the European Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament by 2011 at the latest. Until now, higher education in Europe has notoriously been the absent member of innovation partnerships. But new skills and talents will be crucial to the concrete exploitation of Europe's innovation potential, and the EIT will advocate the change of mind-set required to make this possible. Participating higher education institutions will offer prestigious master's and PhD degrees that will be encouraged to bear the EIT label to reflect their high quality and innovative character. Business partners will benefit directly from new education programs integrating entrepreneurship, innovation and risk management as core modules. The EIT represents a novel approach to innovation at the EU level. For this reason it needs to be set up gradually, based on a phased implementation in view of its long-term development perspectives. An initial European Community budget contribution of more than €300 million will help to launch the EIT during the 2008-2013 period, and will provide the support structure and conditions necessary for integrated knowledge transfer and networking. In order to profit from the considerable returns the initiative is likely to generate, businesses will be expected to buy into the EIT and be willing to lead the way in the unleashing of Europe's innovation potential. [email protected] Ari Syrquin is the head of the International Department at Joseph Shem-Tov Law Firm