EIT HEI Initiative

The EIT HEI Initiative – Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education

EIT HEI initiative

The EIT’s HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education is an action of EIT – the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The EIT exists to drive innovation across Europe by integrating business, education and research to find solutions to pressing global challenges. The EIT’s eight Innovation Communities – Knowledge and Innovation Communities or ‘KICs’, – exist as independent consortia putting this mission into practice across nine strategic priority areas for Europe.

As part of Horizon Europe and under the EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda 2021-2027, EIT and the KICs are expected to raise the bar in education. This will be done through creating systemic impact by engaging 500+ HEIs at institutional level by (i) strengthening their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity and (ii) enabling them to integrate into innovation ecosystems​. HEIs will be empowered to become engines of innovation for the realisation of a green, digital & inclusive society​. The HEI Initiative, coordinated by EIT RawMaterials and involving all other EIT KICs, has been designed with the aim of increasing the innovation and entrepreneurial capacity in higher education, bringing together HEIs in innovation value chains and ecosystems across Europe.

The specific objectives of the HEI Initiative are to contribute to the EIT mission of boosting sustainable, inclusive economic growth by reinforcing the innovation capacity of Europe, whilst also extending the impact of EIT education beyond individual faculties and departments, mobilising all levels within the education value chain​. The HEI Initiative also aims to leverage the innovation and entrepreneurial knowledge-base built in to the EIT KICs thus far​, and provide access to non-partners of EIT KIC ecosystems, enabling more collaboration, co-creation, and mutually learning​. The principle of self-assessment in the EIT’s HEI Initiative means that it encourages HEIs to look at their own practices and the opportunities for increasing their impact in their ecosystem ​and empower them to ignite an entrepreneurial culture and mindset that inspires people to transform their expertise into tangible, societal value​.

The HEI Initiative invests in HEI projects selected through open HEI Calls. HEIs then carry out an HEInnovate self-assessment to explore their innovation and entrepreneurial potential. On the basis of the HEInnovate self-assessment results, HEIs create an Innovation Vision Action Plan (IVAP) ​which outlines their long-term view to 2030 towards innovation and entrepreneurial capacity and addresses all actors and levels within the education value chain through concrete Actions. The HEI Initiative will formally support two years of this long-term IVAP. Applicants must also demonstrate regional engagement and post-project opportunities through leveraging other instruments and programmes.

The HEI Initiative was launched on 1 January 2021, with the HEI Pilot Call launched on 24 March 2021. In the HEI Pilot Call, 64 applications were submitted involving 748 different organisations, of which 319 were HEIs, coming from 36 European countries. In total 23 HEI projects were selected from the HEI Pilot Call, involving 297 organisations, of which 142 were HEIs, representing 32 European countries. Each selected HEI project will last 24 months and receive up to EUR 1,2 million per HEI project.

HEI Call 2 will be launched on 18 November 2021. Several Online Info Sessions will be organised on 7, 8 and 10 December 2021 – registration is open here.