The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology seeks to strengthen the capacity of EU Member States for innovation, to foster sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, and to address major societal challenges faced by the Union.

What is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology? 

Based in Budapest, Hungary, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) mission is to:

  • promote and integrate higher education, research and innovation of the highest standards
  • promote synergies and cooperation between higher education, research and innovation
  • contribute to sustainable economic growth, competitiveness and entrepreneurship by enhancing EU Member States’ capacity for innovation 
  • address major societal challenges faced by the Union

The EIT forms part of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which ensures that the EIT works in partnership with other EU initiatives and programmes.

What has been achieved so far?

The EIT established 8 Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and two more will be created. These communities are supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as generating breakthroughs in the ways that higher education, research and business collaborate. 

The existing KICs are:

  • Climate change (EIT Climate-KIC)
  • Sustainable energy (EIT InnoEnergy)
  • Digital technologies (EIT Digital)
  • Healthy living and active ageing (EIT Health)
  • Raw materials (EIT Raw Materials)
  • Food for Future (EIT Food)
  • Smart, green and integrated urban transport (EIT Urban Mobility)
  • Europe’s manufacturing industry (EIT Manufacturing)

Since its creation, the EIT and its KICs, have brought together more than 1,000 partners from across Europe and beyond, supported more than 300 innovative start-ups, incubated more than 1,200 business ideas and launched more than 400 new products and services. 

More than 1,200 students have graduated from EIT-labelled education programmes at Master and PhD level with a further 5,000 graduates estimated by 2020. Further information on the EIT can be found via this factsheet.  

What are the next steps?

The Commission’s proposal establishing the Horizon Europe programme for the period 2021-2027 sets out the proposed future budget for the EIT, as well as its rationale (including its expected added-value at EU-level), areas of intervention, broad lines of activity and performance indicators. 

However, the Horizon Europe proposal itself does not provide the legal basis to continue the operation of the EIT beyond 2020. On 11 July 2019, the Commission proposed an update to the EIT Regulation and a new Strategic Innovation Agenda for the EIT the period 2021-2027. 

The EIT Regulation, focusing on the key principles of the functioning of the EIT and its KICs, will ensure greater legal clarity vis-à-vis the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and will enshrine the financial sustainability principle for the KICs.

Furthermore, the Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) proposed for 2021-2027 ensures alignment with the objectives of Horizon Europe and introduces the following main new features:

  • Increasing the regional impact of KICs through improved openness to potential partners and stakeholders, and better articulated KIC regional strategies; including links to the relevant Smart Specialisation Strategies
  • Boosting the innovation capacity of higher education to integrate a wider number of higher education institutions into innovation value chains and ecosystems
  • Launching new KICs in priority fields to be selected according to their relevance to the policy priorities of Horizon Europe. The first new KIC would be in the field of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) and is planned for launch in 2022