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Promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as a model of innovation governance in Europe
Commitment 9
European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
Innovation Union commitment text

"By mid-2011, the EIT should set out a Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) to expand its activities as a showcase for Innovation in Europe. This should map out its long-term development within the Innovation Union, including the creation of new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), close links with the private sector and a stronger role in entrepreneurship. It should also build on the EIT Foundation set up in 2010 and on the introduction in 2011 of the "EIT degree" as an internationally recognized label of excellence."

EIT at a Glance
Note: EIT integrates higher education, research and business in areas of high societal need through its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), focused on the following topics: climate change mitigation (Climate-KIC), information and communication technologies (EIT ICT Labs) and sustainable energy (KIC InnoEnergy).
  • What is the problem?
  • What is our objective?
  • Implementation
  • Milestones
  • Background documents
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Enhancing the relations and synergies between innovation, research and education – the main drivers of the global knowledge economy - is crucial to increase innovation capacity of the EU.

Europe is falling short in filling the innovation gap. There is general agreement that the main weakness faced by the EU in the innovation area lies in its limited capacity to convert knowledge into commercial opportunities. Moreover, most Member States, albeit with different intensities, encounter difficulties in promoting an innovation and entrepreneurial culture in research and education, in developing critical masses of human, financial and physical resources in knowledge and innovation, and in rewarding performance and excellence in ways which attract the best academic staff and researchers. This underperformance is also contributing to an under-investment in those services, products and processes which are required to meet today's societal challenges.

Global competition from traditional competitors and the emerging Asian economies poses a great challenge to the attractiveness of Europe and seriously hinders our ability to strengthen the scientific and technological basis of Community industry and to mobilise its innovation potential. This growing competition and attractiveness challenges may have not only economic implications in so far as EU firms and institutions fail to invest in future market opportunities, but also has social and environmental implications and will ultimately impact on the well-being of citizens across the EU.

There is consensus in the Union on the need to continue developing conditions conducive to a better exploitation of the commercial potential of innovation and knowledge policies. The EU2020 Strategy has therefore placed innovation, research and education activities at the core of the Innovation Union Flagship. At the same time, EU policymakers have recognised the importance of societal challenges. Ensuring that research being undertaken is translated into products and services which serve to address the societal challenges is an identified challenge which remains to be addressed.

The EIT is contributing to the Innovation Union objectives through integrating the knowledge triangle and focus on delivering actions which tackle key societal challenges. Initial evidence suggests there is added value in promoting innovation at Community level by supporting excellence-driven Knowledge and Innovation Communities between all actors involved in the knowledge triangle.


The European Institute of Innovation and Technology provides an important bridging function in Horizon 2020 from excellence-driven education, research and industry to innovation. As the first European initiative to fully integrate the three sides of the knowledge triangle, its mission is to capitalise on the innovation capacity and capability of EU researchers, students and entrepreneurs from the EU and beyond. By operationalizing the Knowledge Triangle the EIT contributes to tackling societal challenges and bringing about systemic change in the way European innovation players collaborate.

The mission of the EIT is to grow and capitalise on the innovation capacity and capability of actors from higher education, research, business and entrepreneurship from the EU and beyond through the creation of highly integrated Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The EIT supports the development of innovation-driven solutions to societal challenges and brings about systemic change in the way European innovation players collaborate.

The Strategic Innovation Agenda of the EIT sets out the direction for the EIT's long-term development (7-year horizon). It defines the strategic orientations f of the EIT – including EIT governance, themes for future Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and their relationship with the EIT, budgets and finance, and the role and contribution of the EIT to the European knowledge and innovation landscape.


The Commission proposal for SIA was submitted to the Council and Parliament on 30 November 2011. It has built on the draft SIA version presented by the EIT Governing Board in June 2011 and also took into account the recommendations of the external evaluation report and the results of wide consultations with stakeholders.

Within Horizon 2020, the EIT has become a part of the "tackling key societal challenges" objective. Following the approach of seamless interaction across objectives, it shall also contribute to "industrial leadership and competitive frameworks" by stimulating results-driven research and fostering the creation of high growth innovative SMEs. Finally, it shall contribute to the "excellent science base" by fostering mobility across boundaries–discipline, sector and country as well as by embedding entrepreneurship and a risk-taking culture in innovative post-graduates degrees. 


EIT Implementation since the Adoption of Innovation Union

 - KICs

The 7-year Framework Partnership Agreements (FPA) and Annual Grant Agreements 2010 (AGA) were signed with all KICs by February 2011. 

- The EIT Foundation

The EIT Foundation i.e. the first foundation ever created by a body of the EU is a not-for-profit organisation, formally established as a charity under Dutch law in September 2010 in Rotterdam.

The EIT Foundation was created with the objective of supporting and promoting the mission of the EIT, by nurturing and stimulating talent, ideas and activities that will help creating a Europe of Innovation. As a philanthropic organisation, the EIT Foundation aims at attracting and channelling funding for actions complementing EIT and KICs' initiatives, thus enhancing and widening the EIT's impact in promoting innovation across Europe.

Its work is performed via a dedicated work programme "EITF 2020". The EIT Foundation gathers today eleven leading companies actively involved in the drafting of the EIT Foundation Work Programme and in the launching of its first activities.  

- EIT degree programmes

In 2011 and 2012 the EIT has established criteria for awarding an EIT label for degrees from Master courses and PhD programmes. Such labels will be issued for the first time in the end of 2012. This is an experimental phase and the criteria will be revisited in 2013.

2011 EIT to submit draft SIA to the Commission
Type: Other
2011 CE to submit final SIA to Council and Parliament
Type: Other

Annual Reports Show group

Work Programmes Show group

EIT Publication Show group

Lead Directorate-General/Unit, Head of Unit

Directorate General Education and Culture EAC/C2, L. Recalde

Other Directorates-General/Units associated

DG Research and Innovation, DG Enterprise

Sylvia Jahn, Policy Assistant, European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) 


Key external partners

Stakeholders from the fields of higher education, research and business

EC flag European Commission Departments (Directorates-General) and services new window link