The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has selected its first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The decision was made after the top two proposals for each KIC area had been presented to the EIT governing board at the EIT headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, on 16 December.
The subject areas to be addressed are climate change mitigation and adaptation ('Climate-KIC'), sustainable energy ('KIC InnoEnergy') and the future information and communication society ('EIT ICT Labs'). Each of these KICs will receive a start-up grant of EUR 3 million. They are expected to be up and running by the middle of 2010.
'The selection of the first Knowledge and Innovation Communities is a further milestone towards a more innovative Europe,' European Commission President José Manuel Barroso praised. 'I am looking forward to the KICs [becoming] innovation hotspots that attract the brightest talents from Europe and beyond. They should develop into the 'places to be' for those students, researchers, and entrepreneurs who want to work together in areas of high relevance for our common future.'
'The KICs will help to bridge those gaps that are still too often hindering an effective cooperation within the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation,' added Maros Sefcovic, Commissioner-designate for Education, Training, Culture and Youth. 'I am confident the EIT will help to inspire a change in mindsets, facilitating our readiness for the knowledge society and creating an environment where new ideas can prosper.'
The Climate-KIC will initially concentrate its efforts on achieving excellence in four specific areas: (1) assessing climate change and managing its drivers, (2) transitioning to low-carbon resilient cities, (3) adaptive water management, and (4) zero carbon production. Recognising their high potential for innovation and job creation, these four fields were chosen as core elements of this KIC. The goal is that, by 2014, the Climate-KIC 'will be the natural place for companies to locate R&D [research and development] centres, top students to look for climate education, researchers to look for inspiration and policymakers to seek advice'.
The core partners include major companies, academic institutions and regional agencies. Co-location centres will be established in London (UK), Zurich (Switzerland), Berlin (Germany), Paris (France) and Randstad (the Netherlands).
The KIC InnoEnergy will be managed as a business and actually be set up as a European company in order to provide stability and develop sustainability. The technological approach covers the most challenging areas of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. Co-location centres will be situated in Germany, France, the Netherlands/Belgium, Spain, Poland and Sweden.
The third and final KIC selected will be dedicated to the future information and communication society. The consortium hopes to speed up the transformation of ideas and ICT technologies into real products, services and business. The KIC EIT ICT Labs will set up Co-location centres in Berlin (Germany), Eindhoven (the Netherlands), Helsinki (Finland), Paris (France) and Stockholm (Sweden).
'The overriding criteria for our decision were leadership and excellence,' explained Martin Schuurmans, chairman of the EIT's governing board. 'In the governing board, we were extremely impressed with the response to the call for KICs, which showed a high level of commitment from all interested parties. The KICs are innovation test-beds and we want them to generate a real impact, notably in terms of new business creation, entrepreneurship education and societal benefit. The foremost task of the EIT is now to get the KICs energised by mid next year.'
As an essential element of the EIT, the KICs are designed to bring together higher education institutions, research and business in highly integrated partnerships to boost innovation and contribute to Europe's competitiveness and the goals of the future EU 2020 strategy.
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Information Source: European Institute of Innovation and Technology; European Commission
Document Reference: Based on Commission press release IP/09/1950 and information from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology