Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation and entrepreneurship

What is the EIT’s HEI Initiative

The EIT’s HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education is a joint EIT Community activity coordinated by EIT RawMaterials. The initiative is a key objective for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as part of its new strategy, the EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda 2021−2027. The initiative aims to support higher education institutions with expertise and coaching, access to the EIT innovation ecosystem, and funding, enabling them to develop innovation action plans complementing the needs of individual higher education institutions.

Industrial change

Institutional change

Partnerships

Partnerships

Innovation

Innovation

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship

Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing

EIT’s HEI Initiative main phase

The first three years of the EIT’s HEI Initiative, 2021−2023, have been designated as the pilot Phase, which will be followed by the main phase − 2024−2027:

EIT HEI Initiative annual calls for proposals

The EIT’s HEI Initiative organises annual calls 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. 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.

The organisations and countries eligible to participate in the Calls for Proposals include:

  • Higher education institutions one of which must be a KIC partner
  • Public bodies at local, regional or national level
  • Public or private, small, medium or large enterprises
  • Intermediary organisations or associations which represent Higher Education Institutions
  • Research institutions
  • Horizon Europe countries

Projects 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.

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.

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

What our community thinks

During these first months with the EIT, we have been feeling very supported. They have been caring and helpful with onboarding us into the EIT procedures.

Katre Elias
Project Manager, UNIcorn project

What our community thinks

The agile EIT HEI Initiative team and RiEcoLab allow us to implement institutional change and build innovation capacity, while positioning our HEIs as ecosystem integration labs for spin-offs, start-ups and scale-ups.

Dr T. Bartosz Kalinowski and Dr Adrian Solomon
Coordinators, RiEcoLab project

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 HEIs.

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