Open Access Government provides an update on the European Commission’s support for innovation, research and education

In our January 2023 edition, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, looked at education and training to improve education inclusivity across Europe. (1) Since then, the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) heralded the ‘EIT Campus’, which seeks to ease access to its education and training that combines entrepreneurship and innovation. Courses cover the fields of climate, health and raw materials, and food “will support the skills transition for a greener and more prosperous Europe”, we hear. Further courses in the future will include digital, agriculture, energy, urban mobility, manufacturing, plus culture and creativity alongside innovation, research and education.

Commissioner Gabriel provides her thoughts on this exciting new education initiative regarding the opportunities it offers and what it means for Europe. “We created the EIT Campus to offer one central entry point for students and professionals willing to expand their knowledge on diverse topics while keeping an eye on innovation and entrepreneurship. The training offers and opportunities provided by EIT Campus will widen their horizon in domains that are crucial for our future. We want both students and professionals to be best equipped because they belong to the driving forces that will support Europe in its digital and green transitions.” (2)

Supporting talent in the EU regions

It’s interesting to see that earlier this year, the European Commission launched the ‘Talent Booster Mechanism’ to help European Union (EU) regions impacted by the speedy decline of working-age populations to “train, retain and attract the people, the skills and the competencies needed to address the impact of the demographic transition”. Commissioner Gabriel’s perspective on this is to ensure that everybody in Europe has the same opportunities when it comes to talent. “The cornerstone of EU principles is ensuring that all Europeans have the same possibilities, regardless of the region in which they were born. innovation, research and education play a crucial role in ensuring that all EU regions, especially rural areas, have a supportive innovation ecosystem and a talent pool that is well-prepared for their future competitiveness and prosperity,” the Commissioner comments. (3)

Supporting higher education institutions

In late January 2023, Commissioner Gabriel heralded 10 Erasmus+ projects to try out new forms of cooperation between higher education institutions on a transnational level, as detailed in the European strategy for universities. This is a crucial part of achieving the European Education Area, we learn. Each chosen pilot project “will offer evidence for next steps and will elaborate proposals towards a possible joint European Degree and legal status for alliances in agreement with the higher education sector and Member States.”

Commissioner Gabriel underscored the magnitude of the collaboration and taking transnational cooperation to a new level. “I am happy to see that 90 higher education institutions of various sizes from all across Europe, and more than 20 European University Alliances, will collaborate with national and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders to make the European Education Area a reality. The Commission will work closely together with the selected projects to explore and examine, hand in hand with the higher education stakeholders and national authorities, ways to make transnational cooperation easier for the benefit of Europe’s students, higher education institutions, and their staff members,” Commissioner Gabriel detailed. (4)

Innovation funding support

We have touched on innovation quite often here, but not in detail. It is, therefore, fitting we mention the news in February that the European Innovation Council Fund provides €331 million of equity for deep-tech companies in Europe. As a result, we hear that 13 companies have signed investment agreements and are pioneering their approach to delivering ground-breaking innovations for businesses and citizens. Examples include better food production with lower emissions, new robotics technologies and computer vision for orthopaedic surgeons, innovative photonics and visual search technologies.

Commissioner Gabriel keenly explains that the EIC Fund is the EU’s tool to drive economic growth and innovation. “€331 million of new investments will support high-risk, deep-tech start-ups to bring their innovations to the market and scale up…we are proud to already support 13 new companies from all corners of Europe and across a wide field of technologies. The EU has serious ambitions to remain a world leader in frontier technologies,” she says. (5)

Support for innovation, research and education

It’s interesting to see how the Commission supports innovation, research and education in so many ways, some of which we explore here. For example, I was intrigued that the MSCA4Ukraine initiative assists displaced researchers from Ukraine. It is encouraging to read that 13 doctoral candidates and 111 postdoctoral researchers can conduct their research in EU Member States and countries connected to Horizon Europe. Academic and non-academic organisations in 21 countries host researchers, primarily in Germany, France and the Czech Republic.

MSCA4Ukraine research areas include social sciences and humanities, life sciences plus chemistry, from eight months up to two years. Commissioner Gabriel provides encouraging words that we need to read in their own right but also to finish off the analysis in this particular editorial.

“The MSCA4Ukraine initiative is yet another proof of our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We are proud that 124 scientists will be able to continue their research work and will have access to training, skills and career development opportunities. It is our hope that they will be able to contribute to the reconstruction of their home country once the war is over.” (6)


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