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The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is the first European initiative to fully integrate the three sides of the "Knowledge Triangle" (Higher Education, Research, Business - Innovation). Measures funded by the EIT aim at transforming education and research results into tangible commercial innovation opportunities and fostering entrepreneurial spirit of young researchers across Europe.
EIT’s operative activities are delivered through operative partnerships known as “Knowledge and Innovation Communities” (KICs) – highly integrated public-private networks of universities, research organisations and businesses – which are coordinated by a Governing Board and a Headquarter (located in Budapest), ensuring strategic management.
The cornerstone of the EIT initiative is direct involvement of business stakeholders, including SMEs, in all strategic, operational, and financial aspects of the Institute. This is also evident in the funding scheme: the EIT provides seed financing to the KICs, which covers up to 25% of their funding needs. The rest of the KICs’ financial needs are to be covered by the KIC partners and other sources (Horizon 2020, ESI Funds, national and regional funding schemes, enterprises etc.).
The KICs are selected by the EIT Governing Board and operate across Europe. The first three KICs covered the following thematic areas: climate change, renewable energies, and the next generation of information and communication technologies.
On 30 November 2011 the European Commission presented its first "Strategic Innovation Agenda" (SIA) to the Council and the European Parliament. In the SIA the Commission proposed to integrate the EIT into Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation in 2014-2020.
The negotiations on Horizon 2020 were completed with the adoption of the corresponding legislative package in December 2013. As a result of the negotiations on Horizon 2020, the EIT established three further KICs on the following topics: Raw Materials (Call 2014), Innovation for Healthy Living and Active Ageing (2014), Food4Future (2016).