In March 2021 the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) launched 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. The first activity was a pilot call for proposals inviting European higher education institutions to design institution-wide action plans that will improve their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity across all institutional levels.
The pilot call was a huge success. 64 consortia representing nearly 750 organisations from across Europe applied to the pilot call that closed in May 2021. As a result, 23 projects involving 135 HEIs and 140 non-academic organisations (companies, research centres, public authorities and associations) from 32 countries will benefit from this first call with funding of up to EUR 27.5 million available. Organisations involved in the selected projects include the Medical University of Plovdiv (BG), University of Pardubice (CZ), Robert Bosch GmbH (DE), Foundation Startup Wise Guys (EE), Universidad de Zaragoza (ES), University of Eastern Finland (FI), Athens University of Economics and Business (GR), University College Dublin (IE) and Confindustria Trento (IT). More details on the selected projects can be found here.
Three of the selected projects are led by EIT Health partners:
Also included in the list of selected projects were a number of partners from our Innostars region. INVENTHEI is led by the University of Porto, Łukasiewicz Centre are participating in ETEIA and Kaunas University of Technology (EIT Health Hub in Lithuania) are part of the BOOGIE-U project.
Speaking about the initiative, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: ‘Universities have a critical role to play in the development and growth of local and regional innovation ecosystems. This new initiative will help them boost their entrepreneurial capabilities at all levels and unlock their innovation potential. I congratulate the selected consortia for putting bold and promising ideas on the table, and now it’s time to step into action and make them a reality!’
The pilot projects implemented in Phase 1 in 2021 will incorporate evaluation, learning and improvements before
entering Phase 2 in 2022 and 2023, and scaling up their activities. Upon successful completion of Phase 1, further funding will be released to projects to complete Phase 2. A second call for proposals for the EIT’s HEI Initiative will be launched in late 2021 for projects that will start in 2022. The initiative aims to reach 550 higher education institutions by 2027 to boost European innovation in higher education and support the twin transition towards a more sustainable, digital and competitive Europe.