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European Education Area

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The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

What is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology? 

Based in Budapest, Hungary, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is the European Union’s (EU) initiative to support innovation at a systemic level – from education to the market. 

The EIT brings together organisations working in the field of education, research and innovation (the so-called knowledge triangle) to form dynamic cross-border partnerships and create environments that foster innovation.

The Institute promotes and supports a new generation of entrepreneurs and stimulates the creation of innovative businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The EIT’s mission is to

  • promote and integrate higher education, research, innovation and businesses to create innovation ecosystems
  • 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 Europe, the EU’s research and innovation investment programme. 

The Institute falls under the programme’s third pillar – ‘Innovative Europe’ – which seeks to stimulate technological breakthroughs and innovation ecosystems.

The EIT also works in partnership with other EU initiatives and funding schemes.

What does the EIT do? 

The EIT runs eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), each of which tackles a specific global and/or societal challenge. 

The KICs support innovation and entrepreneurship and generate breakthroughs by fostering collaboration between higher education, research and businesses. 

Currently, eight KICs operate in the following fields

  • EIT Climate KIC: working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy
  • EIT InnoEnergy: achieving a sustainable energy future for Europe
  • EIT Digital: driving Europe’s digital transformation
  • EIT Health: giving EU citizens greater opportunities to enjoy a healthy life
  • EIT Raw Materials: developing raw materials as a major strength for Europe
  • EIT Food: leading a global revolution in food and production
  • EIT Urban Mobility: developing smart, green and integrated urban transport
  • EIT Manufacturing: strengthening and increasing the competitiveness of Europe’s manufacturing industry

The EIT’s Regulation and the Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) 2021-2027 entered into force on 28 May 2021. The SIA emphasises:

  • increasing the KICs’ impact, openness and transparency by opening them up to a wider range of stakeholders. This will enhance knowledge and innovation diffusion across the Union
  • enhancing the entrepreneurial and innovation capacity of higher education across Europe by promoting and supporting institutional change in higher education institutions and their integration into innovation ecosystems. To reach this policy goal, the EIT is running a 3-year pilot initiative – HEI initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education
  • the reinforced EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) that boosts innovation in countries with modest or moderate innovation performance. It aims to share best practices, experience and know-how emerging from EIT KIC activities with local innovation ecosystems and offers tailor-made services to address identified innovation gaps
  • launching two new KICs in the field of cultural and creative sectors and industries (in 2022) and water, marine and maritime sectors and ecosystems (in 2026)

Facts and figure

The EIT is active in all EU Member States with over 2,000 closely integrated partners from research, education and business. 

It has over 60 co-location centers within and outside the EU. The EIT-supported innovation ecosystems include 310 research centers, 269 higher education institutions and 1,284 companies, including SMEs, as well as 193 other entities such as cities, regions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

More than 3,000 students have graduated from EIT-labelled education programmes at master’s and doctoral level. 

The EIT and its KICs have created a large network of EIT alumni which form an interdisciplinary, multicultural community of change agents creating the innovations needed for a green and sustainable Europe. 

In 2020, over 14,000 alumni both within and outside Europe were connected through these alumni communities.

With an earmarked budget of €2.965 billion, the Strategic Innovation Agenda 2021-2027 will increase the impact of the EIT and its KICs throughout all three branches of the knowledge triangle. 

The Strategic Innovation Agenda foresees the launch of 4,000 innovative products and services on the market and the support of 700 start-ups by 2027. 

The EIT also aims to involve 680 higher education institutions and to engage more than 25,000 students in its educational programmes by 2027.