Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programme funding

EUR 2 367,1 million

Legislative Reference

COM(2006) 604 final/2 of 2006-11-13
The objective of the European Institute of Technology (EIT)is to contribute to industrial competitiveness by reinforcing the innovation capacity of Member States and the Community. This will be realised by involving and integrating innovation, research and education at the highest standards.


An integral part of the revised Lisbon Strategy that was put forward by the Commission in its 2005 Spring Report was the proposal to establish a European Institute of Technology (EIT). In response to this the Commission has put forward, on 18 October 2006, a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the EIT.

Aiming to bridge the innovation gap between the EU and its major competitors, the EIT will focus on the integration of the three sides of the knowledge triangle, namely education, research and innovation in order to provide a world-class critical mass at the EU level. The improvement of the relations and synergies between education, research and innovation, specifically their contribution to economic growth, employment and social cohesion, is fundamental in enhancing the competitiveness of the EU.

To address these challenges, the EIT will:
- pool existing physical and human resources to achieve the critical mass needed and create world-class partnerships of excellence;
- work in new, emerging trans- and inter-disciplinary fields with potential economic and societal interest through a virtuous integration of innovation, research and education activities at the highest international level;
- promote a new governance model: with its innovative organisational structure, the EIT should become a reference model for other organisations operating in the knowledge triangle.

The involvement of the business sector in the EIT will be crucial for its success and credibility.

Business expertise will be fully represented in the 'Governing board': the strategic choices about the fields to invest in must take into account their commercial potential.

Secondly, business will be an integral partner in the 'Knowledge and innovation communities' (KICs) to ensure useful outcomes, efficient development and commercial use of the knowledge outcomes. In this way, the private sector will also be a major contributor of financial, human and physical resources. Business will also contribute to defining the education element: the EIT degrees should incorporate innovation management and entrepreneurial elements as integral features.

The EIT has the ambition of attracting a significant amount of resources funds from private sources. This contribution is expected to rise as the EIT builds up a global reputation and develops relations with private institutions.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will naturally be invited to become a partner organisation of a KIC, like any other private company. Each KIC will define in total independence its partnership and the respective role of each member.

That being said, it is true that SMEs often lack the critical mass to participate in top-class excellence-driven initiatives. For this reason, the EIT will seek to disseminate the best practices of the work carried out by KICs to non-partner organisations, especially SMEs.

Proposal for a 'Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the European Institute of Technology' 2006/0197 (COD).


The EIT will be based on an innovative, integrated model, combining a top-down and a bottom-up approach:

- The EIT itself: the legal entity that will be the EIT will in fact be a very small organisation. It will consist of a 'Governing board' (GB) and a very limited number of around 60 scientific and support staff. It will be responsible for setting the overall strategic priorities of the EIT and for selecting KICs to address them. It will evaluate their progress towards agreed objectives and coordinate their work in the strategic areas concerned. The GB will be composed of a balanced, representative group of 15 high-profile people from business and the scientific community, plus four further members representing staff and students from the EIT and its KICs.

- The KICs are the defining characteristic of the EIT. Based on, but going beyond a network approach, they are joint ventures of partner organisations, drawn from universities, research organisations and businesses. These joint ventures will be formed in response to calls for proposals from the EIT. Their objectives will be laid down on a contractual basis with the EIT, but they will have a high level of autonomy in terms of how they organise themselves, how they manage any intellectual property generated, and how they achieve the agreed objectives. They will fully integrate the innovation, research and education dimensions.


The activities of the EIT and the KICs will be financed from a combination of sources:
a)from external sources including: - Member State, regional or local authorities;
- private sources (companies, venture capital, banks, including the European Investment Bank (EIB));
- resources resulting from its own activity (eg, from intellectual property rights);
- resources from the endowments the EIT may accumulate.

b)from Community sources through the budget to the EIT or to the KICs directly, from unallocated margins, and through the 'Structural funds' and participation, in accordance with normal procedures, in the Seventh Framework Programme, the 'Lifelong learning programme' the 'Competitiveness and innovation programme'.

Resources flowing to the EIT directly would be used to:
- finance the KICs through a competitive process based on excellence and in accordance with the criteria set by the 'Governing board' of the EIT;
- finance the running costs of the EIT;
- contribute to the EIT's endowment.

Resources flowing to the KICs directly have to be attracted by the KICs and/or their partner organisations, including through the normal procedures applicable to Community programmes and the Structural Funds. They would constitute elements of the offer of the KICs in the competitive process for obtaining resources from the EIT or could be attracted once a KIC has been awarded such resources.

However, the precise arrangements for the funding of the EIT and the KICs will clearly evolve over time. The Commission estimates that the EIT will require front loading from the Community Budget in the start up phase, the objective remaining to maximise, in the mid-term, contributions from external sources. There is also a trade-off between the resources flowing directly to the KICs, including those from Community programmes, and the contribution from the Community budget to the EIT directly.

The Commission has been in regular contact with the private sector and believes that there is a reservoir of interest in the EIT which can be tapped, including block grants to the EIT's endowment. In practice, the capacity of the EIT and the KICs to attract outside (particularly business) funding will depend on a credible business plan. Two factors are crucial:
- the capacity to attract into KICs the most advanced firms and the best universities and research teams;
- the extent to which the Community itself makes a public declaration of trust by committing itself to making available a substantial financial contribution to kick start the process and show openness to consider at a later stage other forms of contributions flowing either to the EIT directly or to the KICs. On this basis, a virtuous circle can be generated.

Contributions to the KICs or their partner organisations directly from the FP7, the 'Lifelong learning programme' and the 'Competitiveness and innovation programme' and 'Structural funds' in accordance with their respective procedures are possible and expected to constitute an important part of their funding. On the basis of first experience, and to the extent that such contributions are deemed necessary and cannot be achieved within the framework of the existing legal bases, a proposal for necessary adjustment will be considered in due course.

The 'Structural funds' can play a potentially important role for partner organisations involving eligible Member States, regions, cities or other beneficiaries because many types of expenditure or investment are eligible under the Structural Fund rules and would fall under the earmarking for Lisbon priorities.

As regards external resources, co-financing is expected from the partners in the KICs themselves or to be attracted by them. In addition, a substantial part of the investment in improving the facilities used by KICs could be met by straight contributions from Member States, regional or local authorities or from loans, including from the EIB.


Setting up the EIT will require the adoption of a legal instrument, which the Commission is expected to propose in 2006, together with an impact assessment.
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