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EIT: Does the “I” stand for innovation or ill-conceived?

By the second hearing on 11 March, the European Parliament finally decided to approve the establishment of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The institute will not be a traditional university in the sense that it will not have a specific geographic location. Instead, the EIT will be comprised of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), which are virtual networks expected to be formed by universities, companies and other stakeholders. Each KIC must have at least three partner organizations – both universities and private companies - based in at least two member states. The establishment of the EIT, originally designed as the European rival of the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is linked to the Commission goal to bring business and academia together in order to turn research results faster into commercial products and services.

The institute’s establishment process is expected to kick off this summer followed by the formation of the first KICs by 2010. The adoption of the regulation was not unanimous.  It has been heavily criticised, especially by the Green MEPs who voted against the proposal. They claimed that the Commission’s plans were poorly defined and the budget unrealistic. The 2.3 billion Euro originally planned for the set-up of six KICs has shrunk, as a compromise solution, to a mere 308 Euro used for the creation of “two of three” KICs.

Thus the founding process of the institute does not see to promise well for the future. As the Green MEP David Hammerstein gloomily commented: “We believe that no EIT would be better than an ill-conceived and under-funded EIT”.   

Press release