September 9, 2019

Inclusive and open: this is how the EIT could support innovative higher education all over Europe

The proposed legislation published by the European Commission (EC) on 11 July reinforces the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), enabling it to impact on innovation policy in member states and on the performance and funding of European institutes of higher education (HEI).  YERUN previously advocated more openness of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), as well as more outreach to and collaboration with non-member HEI.  

YERUN welcomes the new legislative measures taken to broaden the EIT’s activities and transform the KICs into more inclusive and more participatory communities. But the EIT’s new structuring role in higher education and its overall impact on  regional oureach activities must be supported by appropriate methods and budget. YERUN therefore recommends the following:

  • The EIT’s new task to support innovation capacity development in HEI and their integration in innovation ecosystems should benefit all HEI interested to enlarge their entrepreneurial capacity.  HEI should be able to tap into the KIC’s rich networks of business and societal actors, mutually benefitting all parties involved;
  • Logically, an appropriate budget should be made available that is well above the maximum 14% proposed, to be earmarked within the overall budget for EIT;
  • The ambition to create more inclusive KICs should be translated in a formal requirement to potentially renew their membership, by means of an open call after the first 7-year term, with harmonized guidelines for all KICs.

In the current proposal for Horizon Europe the KICs, which are platforms of connected beneficiaries, are synergistically entwined in multiple programs of Horizon Europe, and will have considerable leverage power on other European and MS programs supporting research and innovation.  This may end up distorting competition for talented students, researchers and funding between HEI in and outside the KICs.  Hence, YERUN advocates the need to mitigate these effects by a developed instrument for innovation capacity development in HEI (supra) and for more regional outreach activities all over Europe so as to ensure maximum positive spill-over of KICs’ activities. Only with these additional measures, will the EIT seize the full innovative power of higher education.

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Photo credit: Alex wong on Unsplash

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