The aim of the European Innovation Council is to advise the European Commission on rapidly evolving technologies and markets. It will also advise on which markets the EC should focus on and invest in. ‘It's all about market-creating innovations,’ explains Rolf Vermeij, head of the EU Grants Support Office at the University of Twente. ‘Developments that create new markets. Consider for example Booking.com. Thanks to new technologies, people can book their own airline tickets and hotels. Almost all of the physical travel agencies have disappeared from the city. A business market ceases to exist, but the employees cannot be transferred one-on-one to the new jobs. As Europe you do not want to experience the disadvantages when these innovative markets arise in, for example, China or the United States. You also want to benefit from it. That is why the European Commission is setting up an Innovation Council.’
According to Vermeij, experts who have built up a considerable track record in the field of breakthrough technologies and innovations are eligible for the council. ‘Experts in the field of start-ups, who know the process of scale-up or have made investments. In addition, it is desirable to have a mix of backgrounds in such a council. Think of a scientists who achieved a successful spin-off or a CEO who went from start-up to scale-up with his company or an investor such as Cotton Wood.’
However, there is only room for 15 to 25 people. Experts from the entire European innovation community can apply on a personal basis. ‘There are very few seats. If you look at the number of member states, there is not even room for every country. The chance that the UT will provide a council member is therefore very small. We should not have any illusion about that. Through ECIU we try to drop some names in the lobby circuit.’
In addition to the Innovation Council, there will be a call for members for the so-called Mission Boards. Five mission areas have been designated. For this, experts are also sought in a personal capacity.
- Mission Area 1: Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation
- Mission Area 2: Cancer
- Mission Area 3: Healthy Oceans and Natural Waters
- Mission Area 4: Carbon Neutral and Smart Cities
- Mission Area 5: Soil Health for sustainable food
The call for the European Innovation Council (ECI) is open until the end of April. The call for the Mission Boards is open from May and runs until June.
In June 2015, Carlos Moedas, member of the Commission responsible for research, science and innovation, suggested the idea of a European Innovation Council (EIC). In January 2017, the Commission set up a high-level group for innovation, which has 15 members and contributed to the setting up of the European Innovation Council in the context of the successor to Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe which will start in January 2021.