Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation and entrepreneurship

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is launching the HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education − a new initiative to unlock the full innovation potential of higher education institutions’ (HEIs) by increasing their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity whilst integrating them into Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel said: “Higher Education Institutions play a key role in our society to nurture the talents of the future. Therefore, the new EIT Regulation contains a new pilot initiative focusing on the innovation and entrepreneurial potential of European HEIs. I am proud that today this new pilot initiative will kick off with the publication of a first call.”

The EIT will work with HEIs and their leadership to equip them with the right tools to support innovation across their campuses and beyond. I am looking forward to the results of this initiative that will give our universities an even larger roles in Europe’s innovation landscape.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Embedding higher education into the innovation ecosystem is a distinct EIT feature and I welcome the launch of this new initiative to strengthen our collaboration with HEI. The EIT Community will now have the opportunity to engage with higher education at all levels to help boost their innovation capacity. I am confident that we will see the emergence of even stronger and more entrepreneurially equipped universities whose guidance and expertise will support Europe’s ability to innovate.

Gioia Ghezzi, Chair of the EIT Governing Board

The initiative is a joint activity of the entire EIT Community coordinated by EIT RawMaterials. The Pilot Call for Proposals invites European higher education institutions to design institution-wide action plans that will improve their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity across all institutional levels. By supporting such activities, this new EIT initiative will create systemic impact, empowering HEIs to become regional engines of innovation and foster sustainable growth and jobs across Europe.

EIT RawMaterials is delighted to be leading the HEI Initiative, supporting Higher Education Institutions across Europe to unlock their potential for innovation and entrepreneurship. This major initiative will consolidate the expertise of the EIT Community to spark transformation at the institutional level, empowering HEIs to become engines of change which will facilitate the green, digital economy of the future.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO, Managing Director at EIT RawMaterials

A total of 23 pilot projects will be selected and implemented over 24 months from July 2021. Each pilot project could be awarded a maximum of EUR 1.2 million with up to EUR 400 000 for Phase 1 (July−December 2021) and up to EUR 800,000 for Phase 2 (January 2022-July 2023). Activities can focus on several themes, including:

  • Fostering institutional engagement and change
  • Strengthening partnerships between higher education, business and research organisations
  • Developing innovation and business support services
  • Enhancing the quality of entrepreneurial education
  • Creating and disseminating knowledge

The deadline for submitting proposals is 25 May 2021, and the selected pilot projects will be announced in June 2021. To learn more about the HEI Initiative and for the full Pilot Call for Proposals, visit the HEI Initiative website and see factsheet.

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