At a recent European Consortium of Innovative Universities’ conference in Brussels, Lieve Wierinck, Belgian MEP and shadow rapporteur on the Horizon Europe research programme, cast doubt about the dividing line between the the newly proposed European Innovation Council and the existing European Institute of Technology. She even went as far as saying, “I think the EIT will be eaten by the EIC.”
The EIC, which will officially open in 2021, is set to receive €10.5 billion or 11% of the total €94.1 research budget for 2021-2027. Its budget will be divided between a “pathfinder” programme for breakthrough ideas, and an “accelerator” for more developed ones. Its mission will be to provide fast and simple grants, loans and possibly equity in some projects. There will also be a mentoring service, introductions to other companies and investors, events, and co-funding opportunities with the European Investment Fund.
For Mrs Wierinck – and many universities for that matter – the EIC shows significant overlap with the EIT. Launched in 2008, the Budapest-based organisation funds collaborations between universities and industry in fields including climate change adaptation and sustainable energy. In comparison with the the EIC, the EIT is due to receive only €3 billion from Horizon Europe.
The two innovation funders are not intended to compete with each other, said a Commission official, while conceding the need to distinguish them better. “We’ve tried to make the EIC complementary to the EIT, but perhaps we’ve not done as good a job as possible in communicating this to the Parliament,” said Stephane Ouaki, head of SMEs, financial instruments and state aid, at the European Commission’s directorate for research.
In a report outlining amendments to the Commission’s Horizon Europe proposal, the “
MEP responsible for steering the Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe through the European Parliament, Mr Christian Ehler, commented: “Current duplications between the EIT and EIC need to be settled.”