Analysis

A vision of the future with new innovation communities

It has been announced that European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has presented its two new Innovation Communities: EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility. Together with some of their partners, they offered a glimpse of what society could look like in 15 years.

A society with a sustainable, resource-efficient, digital and above all competitive manufacturing industry. One that contributes to a circular economy and allows for growth, with different types of job opportunities for a diverse, highly qualified workforce. Where logistics and traffic are smart-managed. Where people use highly efficient modes of electric, shared or individualised and on-demand (public) transport. Where cities provide more space for living, walking and playing. Where no one worries about air quality, traffic jams or finding a parking spot.

Is this what Europe will look like in 15 years? One thing is for sure; impact like this is precisely what the EIT aims for.

Gioia Ghezzi, Member of the EIT Governing Board, said: "I’m thrilled to be presenting our two new Innovation Communities that will find solutions to these crucial global challenges and will effectively contribute to the industrial revolution needed to build a sustainable world. They are great examples of what the EIT strives for: stimulating tangible innovations by bringing together business, education and research with concrete impact that ultimately creates better, sustainable lives for citizens across Europe."

Reportedly, 70% of Europeans live in urban areas, and urban mobility accounts for 40% of all CO2 emissions of road transport. Congestion across the EU is often located in and around urban areas and costs nearly €100bn, or one percent of the EU's GDP, annually.

Maria Tsavachidis, CEO of EIT Urban Mobility, commented: "The current mobility model is simply not sustainable. To change it, we need solutions to a number of key challenges – decongestion, sustainable urban growth and eco-efficient transport. We need to do it now, by deploying and scaling technologies, by pushing change in regulations and infrastructure.

“Citizens must also be given a voice and an active role in the transformation of the urban mobility ecosystem to explore innovative solutions together. We want to reclaim the public space for what the ancient Greeks used to call the 'agora' functions: living, working and meeting. This is exactly what we will achieve with EIT Urban Mobility: making our cities more liveable for citizens."

In the EU, the manufacturing sector employs close to 30 million people in 2.1 million enterprises and accounts for close to 20% of the GDP on average. However, the manufacturing industry is under pressure from a number of factors, varying from rapid technological advancements to the need for a more circular economy.

rofessor George Chryssolouris from the University of Patras, EIT Manufacturing’s key coordinating partner, added: "If we want to create sustainable growth in the European manufacturing sector, we need to innovate and embrace industry 4.0. Such a shift requires investment and education. The EIT’s innovation model is perfect for this: by bringing together business, industry, research and education as well as the public sector, it not only acts as a catalyst for change, but also creates new investments and opportunities. There’s no other initiative like the EIT in the world."

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