Research advisors have volte-face on technology institute

After initially considering Commission plans for a European Institute of Technology (EIT) too ambitious, the executive’s adviser group on research policy now supports it.

Following the Commission’s renewed communication on the European Institute of Technology (EIT) in June 2006, the European research advisory board (EURAB) has drafted a second opinion, this time positive, on the issue. EURAB’s first opinion on the Commission proposal for EIT was critical, as the idea was considered “top-down” and fears were expressed that it would take part of the money earmarked for the European Research Council (ERC), intended to fund basic research. The second opinion stated that the advisory group’s contentment with the renewed proposal and notes the evolution since the first discussions for an EIT in February 2005.

EURAB has particularly welcomed the proposed “light” administrative structure comprising an autonomous governing board with limited membership, now proposed by the Commission, but insists that this Board must have at least a 50% share of industry representatives. In addition, “the academic component, which will be in a minority, has to include Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs)” which are considered to be closer to industry than universities. 

The advisors stress that, “to succeed, the EIT will need to have the involvement of and full support from the business community from the outset” and that the independent nature of the governing board has to be clearly established and protected.

The Commission’s formal proposal on the EIT, including budget, is expected to be published by the end of 2006.

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