EIT: Excellence for Energy in Dutch and European Regions

By Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP, Rapporteur for Regional Policy 2014-2020
October 2012

In the European Parliament I am part of the negotiation team for the Horizon 2020 Research Program and the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) on behalf of the European People's Party. The EIT facilitates and encourages cooperation in education, research and innovation between universities, research institutes and industry.

The objective of the EIT is to encourage innovation in Europe. Essentially this means that industry and researchers have to cooperate. Not just in the labs, but also with students, multinationals and start-ups. In this way, the knowledge base can be strengthened and innovative breakthroughs on the market can be achieved. It is the first institute that focuses on the entire innovation chain; from education, to research to the application by industry.

The Horizon 2020 proposal raises the annual budget of the European EIT substantially: from 309 million euros to 2.8 billion euros for the period 2014-2020. By default, the Netherlands will continue to benefit from this budget given that it is already a strong EIT participant.

The EIT has a lot of attention for energy issues. Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) InnoEnergy is a world class alliance of top European players with a proven track record. KIC InnoEnergy's challenge is to create a sustainable, save and low carbon energy supply for Europe. By closing the innovation gap and boosting innovation in Europe KIC InnoEnergy comprises 28 top European players in industry, research institutes, universities and business schools.

The Netherlands already participates quite actively in the EIT. Brainport Eindhoven is a participant in both the KIC for InnoEnergy and ICT. Wageningen UR, TU Delft and Utrecht University have joined the Climate KIC and organized a joint scholarship program to attract the best brains on climate change mitigation and prevention. Within the KIC for InnoEnergy, Eindhoven focuses on Intelligent Energy-efficient Buildings and Cities.

In the light of the new legislative proposals, in June 2012 I launched a new idea that receives broad support in the European Parliament. Besides the KICs I have advocated for Regional Innovation Communities and Implementation. The RICS will contribute to the development of local knowledge hubs that are not yet fully able to compete with the best in Europe, such as Brainport Eindhoven already can. Ultimately, it is intended that the RICS will form part, or become part of the best knowledge hubs in the EU.

The Eindhoven region is already taking steps towards this aim. By creating the Smart Energy Regions Brabant for example. It is the first regional project to develop and implement new sustainable energy technology in a region. This University Eindhoven initiative, which is supported by the Province of Noord-Brabant, allows businesses in this region to be co-financed in 65 new R&D-projects in the region Zuidoost-Brabant.

We must be smarter and more efficient. We should therefore act on a European scale and use our resources more efficiently and smarter. Not only because we will have to meet the criteria of the new European fiscal compact, but because the Netherlands and Europe are engaged in a global battle for talent which we cannot afford to lose. Knowledge is a resource, one which Europe, has quite a lot of. But knowledge is not fixed but free floating, so let us unite on a European scale in order to lead the world in high-quality, innovative products that create jobs and welfare for all levels of society. We have so much brainpower, so let’s get the best out of it.