Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 4th July 2007
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659
LORDS EU COMMITTEE RAISE DOUBTS ABOUT WHETHER THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY WILL BE ABLE TO ATTRACT SUPPORT FROM BUSINESS
The House of Lords European Union Committee have today raised concerns about whether the proposed European Institute of Technology will be able to attract the support from business it will need to stimulate commercially successful innovation
The Committee's report
Proposal to Establish the European Institute for Technology follows on from their interim report on the subject published in April this year in which they raised concerns about the way in which the EIT concept was being developed by the European Commission.
In their follow up report, the Committee stress the importance of ensuring that business takes up an active role in the EIT. They explain how they would have much preferred, before plans for the EIT were finalised, for a cross-EU study to have been carried out, similar to the
Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration which was carried out in the UK in 2003. The Committee's view is that this would have helped to ensure that there was a significantly greater commitment by business to the EIT's projects which would, as a result, have had a better chance of being commercially realistic as well as technologically stimulating.
The Committee are also critical of what they see as the excessive budget planned for the EIT. The earlier plans for the EIT's operations have been scaled down significantly in the latest proposal, but the earlier budget - of 308.7m over the 6 years from 1 January 2008 - has been retained unchanged. The Committee find it unsatisfactory as well that the EIT's funding is to come from a reserve source intended for emergencies and other unforeseen expenditure.
The Committee set out their own concept for how they think the EIT should have been set up to take a more business orientated approach. The key objectives they suggest are:
Stimulating local business-university collaboration with an emphasis on generating an understanding by all parties of the commercial realities of technological innovation.
Helping to join together local efforts in this area where they could benefit from wider cooperation.
Encouraging and helping to finance the development of business orientated skills in the application of innovation.
Ensuring available funding goes not only to university research but also to assist business start-ups that could turn such research into real commercial opportunities.
Commenting Baroness Thomas of Walliswood, Chairman of the Committee, said:
"We agree that there is a need in the European Union to stimulate efforts to improve collaboration between business and universities in the commercial application of technological innovation"
"However we do have concerns that what is currently being proposed will not be the best way to ensure that the projects taken forward are commercially successful, as well as innovative"
"We do not see any justification for the suggested 308m budget. This should have been reduced in line with the scaling down of the EIT's planned operations which is now proposed"
"It is vital that business is heavily involved in the EIT from the outset, and as a Committee, we feel that ensuring business buy-in must be the focus of EU efforts in establishing the EIT."
Notes to Editors
1. The report
Proposal to Establish the European Institute of Technology, is published by The Stationery Office, House of Lords European Union Committee (Sub-Committee G), 25th report of 2006/07, HL Paper 130.
2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at:
3. The members of the Committee who conducted the inquiry were:
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood (Chairman)
Earl of Dundee
Baroness Howarth of Breckland
Baroness Morgan of Huyton
Lord Wade of Chorlton