– prepared by Marzenna Anna Weresa, WERI-SGH
To what degree has the Innovation Union’s commitment to set out the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) strategic agenda fulfilled its objectives? What role has this commitment played in achieving the stated policy targets in terms of stimulating innovation in Europe? These are some of the questions that I3U – Investigating the Innovation Union seeks to address.
With regard to the first question, we may conclude that this commitment (Commitment 9 of the Innovation Union) has been implemented at least 83 per cent of the time (5 out of 6 components of the commitment have been completed successfully and in a timely manner). The adopted SIA refers to the EIT Foundation in a very limited manner. In the main part of the SIA (the part focusing on the long-term development of the EIT), no single reference is made to the EIT Foundation, so it is difficult to conclude that this is what the EIT SIA is built on. With regard to the second task, it can be concluded that the implementation of the SIA and the subsequent taking up of various KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) actions led to expected policy results in terms of stimulating innovation in Europe. Qualitatively, KIC actions facilitated the creation and growth of SMEs; brought an increase in European innovation and research taken up by business firms and universities; enhanced the competitiveness of key industrial sectors (economic impact); brought positive changes in European educational systems; increased social cooperation (social impact); and allowed for efficiency gains in managing energy, resources and waste (environmental impact). One aspect especially worth mentioning is that KIC actions have been almost perfectly executed in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added-value evaluation criteria. The most prominent impact channels seem to be the embeddedness level and the resource allocation level. At the governance level, there are some obstacles to its smooth operation. KICs may be too heterogeneous in terms of governance modes, entailing a waste of resources when negotiating with potential KIC partners. At the institutional environment level, it may seem that the SIA is important to its stakeholders, but “bottom up” industry knowledge and experience, along with industry regulations, are far more important.
Turning to indicators of the impact made by the SIA, a continuous increase in (i) the number of innovations (the number of new or improved products/services/processes); (ii) the number of start-ups created; (iii) the number of business ideas incubated; (iv) the number of new graduates from EIT-labelled programmes; and (v) the sum of knowledge transfers/adoptions can be observed. In addition, the direct outcomes reported by KIC partners are promising. In the fields of climate change and environment; energy; food security; manufacturing; materials; and urban mobility and transport, the most frequently reported direct outcomes were process innovations. New technologies and new products were relatively frequent in the health and ICT sectors. Process innovations were especially frequent in the manufacturing sector. Patents have been registered in four sectors: climate change and environment; health; ICT and manufacturing. In general, however, patents are not very frequent as a direct outcome of collaboration under the KIC umbrella. Publications were quite frequent, but only in the health field. Finally, it should be mentioned that KIC actions respond effectively to the grand societal challenges faced by Europe.