Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) provide the basis for innovation in a range of products across all industrial sectors. They underpin the shift to a greener economy, are instrumental in modernising Europe’s industrial base, and drive the development of entirely new industries. Their importance makes them a key element of European industrial policy.
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The European Commission is currently developing a new project to improve the analysis and systematic monitoring of industrial modernisation and advanced technologies in Europe. The project, supported by the service contract resulting from the Call for monitoring digital transformation and KETs, aims to create an industrial modernisation observatory that will, among others, further develop and create synergies between the KETs Observatory, the inventory and mapping of KETs Technology Centres and the Digital Transformation Monitor. It will also analyse and monitor in a systematic way emerging digital and KETs trends.
KETs are a group of six technologies: micro and nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, advanced materials, photonics, and advanced manufacturing technologies. They have applications in multiple industries and help tackle societal challenges. Countries and regions that fully exploit KETs will be at the forefront of creating advanced and sustainable economies.
One of the major weaknesses of Europe with regards to KETs lies in the difficulty of translating its knowledge base into marketable goods and services. This innovation gap has been identified as the European 'Valley of Death'. KETs-related manufacturing is decreasing in the EU and patents are increasingly being exploited outside the EU.
KETs are among the priority action lines of European industrial policy. The European Strategy for KETs aims to increase the exploitation of KETs and to reverse the decline in manufacturing as this will stimulate growth and jobs. This strategy is outlined in the 2012 Communication on KETs. A High-Level Group on KETs is advising the European Commission on the implementation.
The Commission works on a wide range of initiatives as part of its strategy to increase the deployment of KETs. This includes supporting investments in KETs, the KETs Observatory, helping small businesses access KETs technology platforms, and activities on trade, skills, and on the facilitation of large industrial projects.
A number of studies have been undertaken to support this work: