The High Level Group (HLG), which represents technology providers, industry users, civil society and the European Investment Bank, was set up in 2013 to advise the European Commission on the implementation of a 2012 action plan.
The HLG finds that progress has been made in creating more favorable conditions for industrial innovation in Europe following the adoption of the action plan.
KETs close-to-market innovation is now a key priority for European funds and for the European Investment Bank. State aid rules have been modernised and allow EU countries to better support investment in KETs.
However, the HLG finds that further actions are needed, especially since competition from East Asia and North America is increasing, and investments in innovation are still 20% below pre-crisis level.
Recommendations for further action
European companies should be more ambitious and work on projects of a European dimension in strategic areas.
The HLG also sees scope to stimulate demand from the market for innovative products and services based on KETs. This would not only accelerate innovation, but also help to solve some of the challenges societies face in fields such as energy, climate and resource efficiency.
Therefore, the Group recommends that EU policies such as the ones on energy, transport and circular economy are linked with KETs. Policies on trade should also be used to trigger innovation.
Finally, the HLG recommends a set of concrete actions to ensure that the growth potential of KETs is not hindered by the lack of a skilled workforce.
The Commission will assess if future action is necessary and what form that action should take.
The importance of KETs
The six KETs (advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, micro and nanoelectronics, and nanotechnologies) are 'technology building blocks' - enablers for new goods and services, new production processes, and solutions for our society.
For example, advanced robotics, 3D-printed prostheses, smart textiles, electric vehicles, lightweight materials, bio-based products or smart phones all rely on KETs.