EIT wants more cash for KICs

The current budget for The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is not enough to attract private sector partners to the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The EIT is now calling for their funding to be increased dramatically to €4 billion in the 2014 – 2020 budget.

Euroscience’s response to the recent EU Green Paper for a Common Strategic Framework for Research and Innovation commented on the KIC’s lack of funding and therefore their inability to maintain industrial partners. The EIT are now asking for a big increase in their funding to support the three existing KICs, which need more investment to succeed.

The EIT justifies its request for a cash boost in its Strategic Innovation Agenda where they focus on the need to attract and maintain private sector interest. “Currently, the investment funding is considered to be marginal, if not sub-marginal for this purpose,” the Strategic Innovation Agenda says.

Since opening in 2008, the EIT has helped bridge the gap between research and industry by acting as a seed investor for the KICs, which involve long-term collaborations between academics and companies across Europe. The three existing KICs develop and commercialise products in the areas of energy, information technology and climate change.

One of the key factors determining the EIT’s budget is how many new KICs are opened in future. The Strategic Innovation Agenda makes the case for nine more, with three to be launched in 2014, three in 2017 and three in 2019.

The concern shared by some is that the existing KICs have yet to show their real potential, partly due to underfunding. It may be premature to fund new KICs when the current ones have yet to prove themselves. The first three KICs have experienced some problems, including delays in getting the money flowing and agreements signed. There is also a need for more flexibility in their administration – including contracting, intellectual property rights and the set-up of spin-offs companies.

Leila Sattary

Leila is a freelance science writer specialising in science funding and research policy. She is a former editor of EuroScientist. She writes for a variety of online and print journals including news and features for Chemistry World, her Lab Rant column for Laboratory News and many more. In her day job she works as a Project Officer at the University of Oxford with particular interest in research policy, knowledge exchange and impact.
Leila Sattary

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