Mercredi 21 Août 2019  
 

N°119 - Troisième trimestre 2017

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It’s About Open Innovation

By Mr Martin KERN,
Interim Director of European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)

Recently there have been many discussions on innovation in Europe. Based on the seven years’ experience of Europe’s largest Innovation Community – the EIT – I am convinced that it is time for Europe to increase its coherence to focus on concrete societal challenges, ecosystems and open innovation.
Let me start with Navya, a French company which raised an investment of over 30 million euros in 2016. Navya specialises in the conception of electric, autonomous systems for sustainable mobility. Its main innovative products is a 100% autonomous, driverless and electric shuttle that can transport up to 15 passengers, safely drive up to 45 km/h and run for 13 hours between charges. This solution will optimise transportation of people on private sites (e.g. in airports, hospitals, campuses).
Navya credits EIT Digital support in making the leap from strong potential to commercial success. When it joined the EIT Community in 2015, Navya needed to raise funds. EIT Digital allowed the scale-up to get traction from its European business ecosystem by introducing it to investors, in the UK and in Finland, and to one of its potential first big customers.
Navya credits the ecosystem behind the EIT Innovation Communities. This ecosystem brings business, higher education and research together and transforms the best ideas into products, services and jobs, providing any type of support required to get products to the market. That’s what I call open innovation.  The European Commission’s EIT Evaluation Report published in October states that the EIT is unique. Forbes features our entrepreneurs in their “30 under 30” list, and highlights that the work of organisations like the EIT is very important. 
Why? We not only provide access to funding, but also use our pan-European network of more than 1 000 partners to help start-ups bring their ideas to markets across Europe. Let me list some of our French partners from business: Philips, Siemens, Ericsson, Eramet, Engie, S’Tile, Veolia Environment, Thales, Sanofi-Aventis; academia: Pierre et Marie Curie University, Institute National Polytecnique de Toulouse, Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, Sorbonne University; and research: Institut national de la recherche agronomique, Fondation de coopération scientifique Campus Paris Saclay, AgroParisTech, CEA – Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, Institut de Recherche Technologique Materiaux, Metallurgie et Procedes. 
Connectivity is key for open innovation, which is a main driver for economic growth and the creation of skilled jobs. Another important feature is that we provide solutions to key societal challenges. We support innovators and entrepreneurs with the best ideas in the areas of climate, sustainable energy, digitisation, food, raw materials, and health. All of the projects we support benefit European citizens. 
With regional hubs located all over Europe, EIT is present in France with five Innovation Hubs.
- EIT Climate-KIC based in France aims to build a low-carbon economy by catalysing innovation and taking solutions to market in the fastest and most effective way, to combat climate change.
- EIT Digital has also built a strong community in France, with an Innovation Hub headquartered in Paris, hosted by INRIA and is a unique and vibrant places where students, start-ups and partners meet and work together. They closely cooperate with the University of Rennes 1 in Brittany and the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.
- EIT Health has its French headquarters in Paris with close cooperation with partners in Grenoble, and gathers partners from the health ecosystems, in the fields of big pharma, medtech, biotech, healthcare and big data. 
- EIT InnoEnergy French Innovation Hub is based in Grenoble, providing entrepreneurial education courses and support to entrepreneurs and innovators. 
- Metz hosts EIT Raw Materials’ French Innovation Hub that fosters innovation, business creation and education in the raw materials sector – all along the value chain. 
Stories such as Navya show that the EIT model works. And we have more stories like it. To date we’ve created more than 300 start-ups and supported a further 800 start-ups and scale-ups. More than 1 200 students have graduated from the EIT’s unique entrepreneurial education programmes and we project 5 000 more by 2020. Tens of thousands have participated in other innovative and entrepreneurial education activities. They are not only searching for jobs, they are creating jobs. To date we’ve created more than 6 000 jobs and launched 400 new products and services on the market to benefit citizens. EIT Community-supported start-ups and scale-ups have raised more than 600 million euros in external capital, with 150 million euros in 2016 alone. This shows that external investors are ready to put their money on the table, and put their money into the innovations of the EIT’s entrepreneurs. 
Now it is time to step up. To new countries, new types of entrepreneurial education, and new societal challenges including security and resilience, inclusion, integration, migration, and water and maritime. For this we need your ‘yes’ and your support. Europe’s future depends on open innovation – and we are here to shape it.

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