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European Institute of Technology

For the school, see École pour l'informatique et les nouvelles technologies.
European Institute of Innovation and Technology
Established 11 March 2008
Mission increase European sustainable growth and competitiveness
Focus innovation and entrepreneurship
President José Manuel Leceta (Director)
Chairman Alex Von Gabain
Budget €308.7 million for 2008–2013
Location Budapest (headquarters), EU countries (Innovation communities), Hungary, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, The Netherlands

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is an agency of the European Union which was established on 11 March 2008.[1] It was set up in order to "address Europe's innovation gap",[2] and is the EU's flagship education institute designed to assist innovation, research and growth in the European Union. The idea of a European Institute of Innovation and Technology has been developed within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, and has been specifically implemented to address Europe's innovation shortcomings. It is based on the concept that innovation is a key driver of growth, competitiveness, and social well-being.

The EIT has established its headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, in April 2010. The EIT is not a research centre and does not directly contribute to financing individual projects. Instead, it provides grants to so‑called "Knowledge and Innovation Communities", composed of networks of existing businesses, research institutes and education institutions or universities which work together around innovation projects and assist or fund individual innovators and entrepreneurs, all over Europe. The three first innovation communities of the EIT have been selected in December 2009 and are established in co‑location centres (i.e., places where they can physically work together) in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

History and background


The initial concept for a European Institute of Technology was based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is renowned for its combination of world-class education, research, and deep engagement in effective innovation processes.[3] In its proposal for an EIT the European Commission put forward a two-level structure that combines a bottom-up, top-down approach—a governance structure which is based on a Governing Board and Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

The proposal of the Commission was based on the results of a wide public consultation taking more than 700 contributions by experts and the general public, and various stakeholder position papers into account. It was clear that Europe could and must do much better at innovation. Although some European education and research institutions are excellent, today they are isolated from the business world and do not work together to create market-driven solutions and innovation. Ján Figel', the previous European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, stated that "Europe consistently falls short in turning R&D results into commercial opportunities, innovations, and jobs".

The Commission identified five specific areas of concern:

  • Translating R&D results into commercial opportunities
  • Reaching a critical mass in certain fields
  • Fragmentation of the EU’s research and higher education system
  • Lack of innovation and entrepreneurial culture in research and higher education
  • Lack of a critical mass in small- and medium-sized enterprises

The answer to these issues would focus on integrating the three sides of the so‑called "Knowledge Triangle": higher education, research, and business sectors. The concept of the EIT has been controversial since the proposal of EC president José Manuel Barroso and considered challenging.[4]

As of 21 January 2008, it appeared that the EIT project will mainly operate by building networks of pre-existent universities and research institutions, without building any new education or research institution and without granting EU diplomas.[5]


On 18 June 2008, Budapest, Hungary, was chosen by the EU nations to host the headquarters of the institute.[3][6] The Hungarian government welcomed the agreement and said it was a great success for the country.

Five bidders had entered the race for the EIT seat, including Budapest; Wroclaw, Poland; Sant Cugat del Vallès near Barcelona, Spain; Jena, Germany; and a joint bid from Bratislava, Slovakia, and Vienna, Austria. According to president Barroso, these applications were evidence of "the strategic and economic interest this ambitious project".

When the EU research ministers came together at the end of May, the decision had to be postponed because Poland vetoed the otherwise unanimously backed city of Budapest as the EIT seat. Yet, the ministers had agreed on the selection criteria, namely that the seat should be in one of the new Member States and it should be in a Member State that does not currently have a European agency or institute. Among the five bidders, only Budapest met those requirements. The President Barroso congratulated Hungary on its achievement: "This is also the result of Hungary's long tradition in excellence in education, research and innovation. Setting the EIT in Budapest represents a flagship for excellence in the knowledge triangle."


Public funds

An initial community budget contribution of €308.7 million has helped launch and will continue to support the EIT network during the 2008–2013 period. It will provide the support structure and the conditions necessary for integrated knowledge transfer and networking. In turn, in order to profit from the considerable returns which 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. The ET acts as an "innovation impact investor" via its Knowledge and Innovation Communities. Thus, the allocation from the EU budget is used for the most part to provide financial support to the Knowledge and Innovation Communities and to develop EIT activities and outcomes.

The annual grant to the Knowledge and Innovation Communities is allocated on a competitive basis and may not exceed 25% of the KICs’ global expenditure. The remainder of the KICs’ budget must be raised from other sources of financing.

EIT Foundation

In addition to public funding via the EU budget, the EIT aims to attract private sector funds for its activities. In order to attract and channel such funding, the EIT Foundation has been set up with the sole aim of promoting and supporting the EIT's activities. The Foundation will be used as a vehicle to channel philanthropic contributions such as donations or bequests. It aims to commence its fundraising activities towards the end of 2011.

Organization and activities

Governing board and management

The Governing Board brings together 22 members balancing prominent expertise from the higher education, research, business and innovation fields. It consists of 18 appointed members and 4 representative members. The management team is based in Budapest. It is in charge of monitoring the activities of the KICs, building and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders both in Europe and beyond, disseminating KIC results, share knowledge, and maintain close links with other EU bodies with a view to ensure, implement, and develop the EIT strategy.

Knowledge and innovation communities

The Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) met on 16 December 2009 in Budapest to designate the first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). These KICs have the objective to integrate education, research and innovation (the so-called Knowledge Triangle) in one common organisation. The first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities were nominated by the EIT Governing Board on 16 December 2009. THE EIT finances the KICs with a maximum of 25% of the total budget.

The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', noted that "the unique feature of the EIT is that it brings excellence in enterprise, research, and higher education together, to maximise potential synergies and cross-fertilisation of ideas from all parts of the 'knowledge triangle'".

In order to create conceptual frameworks for the management of the KICs, the EC has sponsored pilot projects under the name of Knowledge triangle. These projects have reported first concepts on how to align different partners but have also reported on the complexity of the task to build common ground and common rules that are the basis of a joint organisation and legal entity. It will require a high level of trust among the partners, well-designed organizational structures and lean management structures with intelligent performance indicator systems to make the KICs successful.[7]

Climate change


  • Assessing climate change and managing its drivers
  • Transitioning to resilient, low-carbon cities
  • Advancing adaptive water management
  • Developing zero-carbon production systems

Sustainable Energy

KIC InnoEnergy

  • Need of new technologies for sustainable energy and a climate-neutral Europe
  • New energy products

Information technology

ICT Labs

  • Turning Europe into a global leader in ICT Innovation
  • Smart Spaces: exploitation of information in various every day environments
  • Smart Energy Systems: focussing on innovation driven by ICT
  • Health and Well-being: improve the quality of life through the development of ICT-enabled services
  • Digital Cities of the Future: democratic city space through a citizen-centric model
  • Future Media and Content Delivery: addressing the challenges of bringing media and content to the consumer
  • Intelligent Mobility and Transportation Systems

KIC partners

Business Research Education
ICT Labs

Education and entrepreneurship

EIT also focuses on the implementation of education and entrepreneurship programmes. It will encourage higher education institutions to focus on developing innovative curricula that encourage more entrepreneurship, creativity, and leadership.



The EIT headquarters are located in Budapest, Hungary, in 11th district's Neumann Janos utca (Infopark, Budapest Science park).

Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs)

The labs (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) are established all across Europe (the European Union and Switzerland) in co‑location centres.

  • The KIC on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption: (Randstad, the Netherlands.
  • The KIC on Sustainable Energy (Stockholm, Sweden.
  • The KIC on the Future Information and Communication Society (Trento, Italy.

See also


External links

Official websites

  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology official website
  • EITeu EIT Twitter account
  • Climate-KIC Climate-KIC website
  • KIC InnoEnergy KIC InnoEnergy website
  • EIT ICT Labs EIT ICT Labs website

Official communication

  • Original press release on the European Institute of Technology from the European Union

Media reports

  • European Institute of Technology: KIC(K)starting innovation or networking itself to death? – European Journalism Centre
  • Presentation of ClimateKIC Nature Magazine
  • European Institute of Technology: The tapas principle – European Journalism Centre
  • The Guardian
  • The Guardian
  • Commission reveals plans for European Institute of Technology – EurActiv


  • Daria Tataj, Executive Board Member, EIT at the Academic Enterprise Awards Europe 2011, Zurich

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