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The EIT shall play a major role by bringing together excellent research, innovation and higher education thus integrating the knowledge triangle. The EIT shall do so primarily through the KICs. In addition it shall ensure that experiences are shared between and beyond the KICs through targeted dissemination and knowledge sharing measures, thereby promoting a faster uptake of innovation models across the Union.

Specific objective

The specific objective is to integrate the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation and thus to reinforce the Union's innovation capacity and address societal challenges.
Europe is facing a number of structural weaknesses when it comes to innovation capacity and the ability to deliver new services, products and processes, thereby hampering sustainable economic growth and job creation. Among the main issues at hand are Europe's relatively poor record in talent attraction and retention; the under-utilisation of existing research strengths in terms of creating economic or social value; the lack of research results brought to the market; low levels of entrepreneurial activity and mindset; low leverage of private investment in R&D; a scale of resources, including human resources, in poles of excellence which is insufficient to compete globally; and an excessive number of barriers to collaboration within the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation on a European level.

Rationale and Union added value

If Europe is to compete on an international scale, these structural weaknesses need to be overcome. The elements identified above are common across Member States and affect the Union's innovation capacity as a whole.
The EIT will address these issues by promoting structural changes in the European innovation landscape. It will do so by fostering the integration of higher education, research and innovation of the highest standards, notably through its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), thereby creating new environments conducive to innovation, and by promoting and supporting a new generation of entrepreneurial people and by stimulating the creation of innovative spin-offs and start-ups. In doing so, the EIT will contribute fully to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and notably to the flagship initiatives 'Innovation Union' and 'Youth on the Move'.
In addition, the EIT and its KICs should seek synergies and interaction across the priorities of Horizon 2020 and with other relevant initiatives. In particular, the EIT will contribute through the KICs to the specific objectives of the priority "Societal challenges" and to the specific objective "Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies".

Integrating education and entrepreneurship with research and innovation

The specific feature of the EIT is to integrate higher education and entrepreneurship with research and innovation as links in a single innovation chain across the Union and beyond, which should lead, inter alia, to an increase of innovative services, products and processes brought to the market.

Business logic and a results-oriented approach

The EIT, through its KICs, operates in line with business logic and takes a results-oriented approach. Strong leadership is a pre-requisite: each KIC is driven by a CEO. KIC partners are represented by single legal entities to allow more streamlined decision-making. KICs must produce clearly defined annual business plans, setting out a multiannual strategy and including an ambitious portfolio of activities from education to business creation, with clear targets and deliverables, looking for both market and societal impact. The current rules concerning participation, evaluation and monitoring of KICs allow fast-track, business-like decisions. Business and entrepreneurs should have a strong role in driving activities in KICs, and the KICs should be able to mobilize investment and long-term commitment from the business sector.

Overcoming fragmentation with the aid of long-term integrated partnerships

The EIT KICs are highly integrated ventures, bringing together partners from industry including SMEs, higher education, research and technology institutes, renowned for their excellence, in an open, accountable and transparent manner. KICs allow partners from across the Union and beyond to unite in new, cross-border configurations, optimise existing resources and open up access to new business opportunities through new value chains, addressing higher-risk, larger-scale challenges. KICs are open to participation of new entrants bringing added value to the partnership, including SMEs.

Nurturing Europe's main innovation asset: its highly talented people

Talent is a key ingredient of innovation. The EIT nurtures people and interactions between them, by putting students, researchers and entrepreneurs at the centre of its innovation model. The EIT will provide an entrepreneurial and creative culture and cross-disciplinary education to talented people, through EIT-labelled Masters and PhD degrees, intended to emerge as an internationally recognised brand of excellence. In doing so, the EIT strongly promotes mobility and training within the knowledge triangle.

Broad lines of the activities

The EIT shall operate mainly through the KICs particularly in areas which offer a true innovation potential. While the KICs have overall substantial autonomy in defining their own strategies and activities, there are a number of innovative features common to all KICs where coordination and synergies shall be sought. The EIT will moreover enhance its impact by disseminating good practices on how to integrate the knowledge triangle and the development of entrepreneurship, integrating relevant new partners where they can provide added value, and by actively fostering a new culture of knowledge sharing.

(a) Transferring and applying higher education, research and innovation activities for new business creation

The EIT shall aim to create an environment to develop the innovative potential of people and to capitalise on their ideas, irrespective of their place in the innovation chain. Thereby, the EIT will also help to address the 'European paradox' that excellent existing research is far from being harnessed to the full. In doing so, the EIT shall help to bring ideas to the market. Chiefly through its KICs and its focus on fostering entrepreneurial mindsets, it will create new business opportunities in the form of both start-ups and spin-offs but also within existing industry. Focus will be on all forms of innovation, including technological, social and non-technological innovation.

(b) Cutting-edge and innovation-driven research in areas of key economic and societal interest

The EIT's strategy and activities shall be driven by a focus on areas which offer a true innovation potential and have a clear relevance to the societal challenges addressed in Horizon 2020. By addressing key societal challenges in a comprehensive way, the EIT will promote inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches and help focus the research efforts of the partners in the KICs.

(c) Development of talented, skilled and entrepreneurial people with the aid of education and training

The EIT shall fully integrate education and training at all stages of careers and support and facilitate the development of new and innovative curricula to reflect the need for new profiles engendered by complex societal and economic challenges. To this end, the EIT will play a key role in promoting new joint or multiple degrees and diplomas in Member States, respecting the principle of subsidiarity.
The EIT will also play a substantial role in fine-tuning the concept of 'entrepreneurship' through its educational programmes, which promote entrepreneurship in a knowledge-intensive context, building on innovative research and contributing to solutions of high societal relevance.

(d) Dissemination of best practice and systemic knowledge-sharing

The EIT shall aim to pioneer new approaches in innovation and to develop a common innovation and knowledge-transfer culture, including in SMEs. This could happen, inter alia, by sharing the diverse experience of the KICs through various dissemination mechanisms, such as a stakeholder platform and a fellowship scheme.

(e) International dimension

The EIT acts conscientious of the global context it operates in and shall help to forge links with key international partners in accordance with Article 27(2). By scaling up centres of excellence through the KICs and by fostering new educational opportunities, it will aim to make Europe more attractive for talent from abroad.

(f) Enhancing European wide impact through an innovative funding model

The EIT will make a strong contribution to the objectives set in Horizon 2020, in particular by addressing societal challenges in a way complementing other initiatives in these areas. Within the framework of Horizon 2020 it will test out new and simplified approaches to funding and governance and thereby play a pioneering role within the European innovation landscape. Part of the annual contribution will be attributed to KICs in a competitive way. The EIT's approach to funding will be firmly based on a strong leverage effect, mobilising both public and private funds at national and Union level, and it will be communicated, in a transparent manner, to the Member States and relevant stakeholders. Moreover, it will employ entirely new vehicles for targeted support to individual activities through the EIT Foundation.

(g) Linking regional development to European opportunities

Through the KICs and their co-location centres – nodes of excellence, bringing together higher education, research and business partners in a given geographical location – the EIT will also be linked to regional policy. In particular, it shall ensure a better connection between higher education institutions, the labour market and regional innovation and growth, in the context of regional and national smart specialisation strategies. In doing so, it will contribute to the objectives of the Union's cohesion policy.