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The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is an emerging educational institution proposed by European Union Committee President José Manuel Barroso. With the aim of becoming an educational 'flagship of excellence', EIT will be comprised of a Governing Board and multiple Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). ETH anticipates a call for a KIC about climate change potentially as early as spring 2009.
The planned European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) seeks not only to build a European-wide center for innovation, it wants to do so by building 'knowledge triangles' joining higher education, research and business innovation. The idea is that education and research institutions are often isolated from the business world, thereby lacking the 'critical mass' needed to achieve levels of innovation.
These knowledge triangles are the basis for EIT's Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) elements. Each KIC chosen by the EIT Governing Board should be comprised of public-private networks of universities, research organizations and businesses and should focus on a particular research topic. A KIC should promote the production, dissemination and implementation of new knowledge and technologies; these should be ready for commercial exploitation. 2–3 initial KICs are foreseen, with the likely topics to include climate change, energy efficiency/mobility and the next generation of information & communication technologies. The KICs are planned as short-term entities, with a duration of 7–15 years.
EIT itself is still emerging as an entity. The idea was introduced by the European Union Committee President José Manuel Barroso in February 2005. By October 2006 the EU adopted a proposal to establish EIT. In November 2007 a political agreement was achieved and the financing set at 309 million Euro for the period 2008–2013. In January 2008 an ad-hoc 'Identification Committee' was chosen to select the 18 initial Governing Board members by summer 2008. The official criteria for KICs will also be announced at that time. The newly elected Governing Board will announce the selection of the 2–3 initial KICs within 18 months of its creation, expected by the end of 2009. The Board will also produce a 7 year Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) outlining EIT's long-term priorities and financial needs (not later than 2011).
As EIT takes form, leading universities across Europe are also discussing and forming initial KIC proposals based on the announced likely topics. At ETH President Ralph Eichler has initiated negotiations for a KIC on climate change among IDEA League members. The IDEA League is an international educational partnership among Imperial College London, TU Delft, RWTH Aachen, Paris Tech and ETH Zurich. Prof. Jaboury Ghazou is coordinating on behalf of ETH a feasibility study for the climate change KIC, such that a decision can be made by the IDEA League presidents in September 2008 whether to work toward putting together a full climate change KIC proposal by September 2009. Several IED members have become involved, and the IED-initiated research consortium CLIMPOL is also interested. CLIMPOL Co-Chair Prof. Volker Hoffmann has agreed to act as a coordinating member and spokesperson for the social science component during the negotiations and initial proposal formulation.
In May several meetings among IDEA League representatives took place in Zurich, London and Paris. IED's Dr. Vivianne Visschers was among the ETH representatives who attended the meeting in Paris, whose main goal was to generate interest at Paris Tech to join the potential KIC on climate change. Members from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College had already shown interest in joining the KIC a week prior at the meeting in London. TU Delft is interested in forming a KIC on energy issues, which also presents an opportunity for synergies.
It is expected that EIT will open a first call for the initial KICs in spring 2009. The members of IED are very excited about this potential opportunity for extensive international cooperation!.
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