On 12 January 2018, the European Commission published its Opinion on the independent evaluation of the EIT. The Commission Opinion recognises the EIT / KICs achievements highlighted in the external evaluation, namely:
- EIT / KICs model is highly relevant and now starts to deliver concrete results;
- EIT and KICs add value beyond national initiatives, building new types of cooperation links and facilitating cross-border interactions;
- EIT educational programmes attract high calibre students;
- The KIC co-location centre model has been instrumental for widening the KICs’ geographical scope to EU’s moderate innovation performers;
- The EIT and the KICs fit well within the EU innovation landscape by providing support to innovation through Knowledge Triangle Integration;
- Administrative expenditure of the EIT has been steadily decreasing over time and is significantly below the 5% threshold set out for the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme; and;
- KICs adopted diversified efforts and strategies to achieve financial sustainability.
In its Opinion, the Commission also recognised the importance of the role of the EIT in supporting KICs to implement their innovation model. At the same time, the document indicates certain areas where there is room for improvement, including:
- Integration of the EIT graduates in KIC innovation and entrepreneurship activities is under-exploited. KICs’ education activities did not generate so far a significant number of student-led start-ups;
- Further efforts are needed for the KICs to become fully integrated into the local innovation ecosystems;
- Impact is mainly limited to the partners, graduates and start-ups that have directly cooperated with the KICs, and less clear evidence is found on the systemic impacts of the EIT;
- The potential of the EIT and KICs to contribute to EU policy-making in specific fields has not been utilised at its best;
- Synergies existing at implementation level between the EIT and other EU innovation policy initiatives and instruments are not sufficiently reflected at programming level. EIT should work in close coordination with research and innovation activities and the financial instruments of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme and COSME; and;
- Achieving fully self-financing after 15 years may be challenging for KICs.
The Commission review of the EIT acknowledges the uniqueness of the EIT model among the EU and Member State innovation support initiatives in tackling relevant societal challenges through the KTI. The Commission also highlights the following:
- EIT and KICs contributed to the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme objectives on “societal challenges” and on “Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies”. KICs brought solutions closer to the market and paved the way for industrial and commercial implementation in areas of societal challenges;
- KICs have been successful in involving the diversity of actors in the knowledge triangle, thus contributing to reduce the fragmentation in their sectoral ecosystems;
- The flexibility of the EIT model is suitable and allows for testing potential new initiatives in the area of innovation support;
- The KICs’ management costs have been significantly lowered over time, following the EIT’s efforts to limit their weight on KICs’ accounts; and;
- The cross-KIC interactions, through the active support of the EIT, have been steadily increasing.
Finally, the Opinion re-affirms the recommendations of the independent evaluation and commits the Commission, together with EIT and KICs to:
- Measure and report more extensively on activities and achievements related to EU policy priorities in thematic areas;
- Further improve and review the system for monitoring to better measure and capture results and impact;
- Reduce the administrative burden for the EIT and KICs; and;
- Explore way to further extent the multi-annuality of the EIT grant agreements.