2021 Call for Proposals - FAQs

    2021 Call for Proposals FAQ page will be regularly updated and complemented when new content comes available.

In line with the political agreement reached on 28 January 2021, the first new EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community 2021-2027 will focus on the cultural and creative sectors and industries (CCSI): EIT Culture & Creativity. The EIT does not pre-define the strategic sub-areas eligible within the field of CCSI leaving it to future applicants to propose focus areas in their strategies. To learn more about the scope and theme for this new proposed EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community, download the factsheet. 

The EIT Call for Proposals will be launched in Q4 2021 with a deadline for submissions in Q1 2022. The indicative roadmap is available here. All information and any update relating to the upcoming EIT Call for KIC Proposals will be posted on the EIT’s KIC Call page. Conditions for participation of Horizon Europe (HE) and the EIT Regulation will be applied.

Potential applicants should develop a proposal taking into account other relevant on-going EU funded and non-EU funded programmes as well as relevant policies to ensure synergies elevating the impact of a potential KIC, the new European Bauhaus initiative being one of them. Applicants should also avoid overlaps with other public or private initiatives.

Details regarding the call criteria and evaluation process are planned to be published in June 2021. All information and any update relating to the upcoming EIT Call for KIC Proposals will be posted on the EIT’s KIC Call page.

Based on the EIT’s Impact Framework, the application template will include clear definitions of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) including for short and medium-term results as well as impacts aligned with Horizon Europe ones. The applicants will be required to determine targets for each KPI and describe how these will be achieved.

In line with Article 9 of the EIT Regulation, the EIT Call for Proposals is not open for natural persons, but for organisations. The minimum condition to form a KIC is the participation of at least three independent partner organisations, that are comprised of at least one Higher Education Institution (HEI), one research organisation and one private company and that are established in at least three different Member States. In addition, Article 2(5) defines partner organisations as follows: “A ‘partner organisation’ means a legal entity which is a member of a KIC and may include, in particular, higher education institutions, vocational education and training providers, research organisations, public institutions, public or private companies, financial institutions, regional and local authorities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations.”

Actors of the Knowledge Triangle are invited to form consortia, but may be extended to other types of partners, which fulfil eligibility conditions and are essential to deliver on the proposed strategy.

There are several possible ways to identify and engage with potential applying consortia. One of these is that the EIT has been facilitating the process with a networking website that will be available until March 2022 allowing potential partners to connect for the upcoming Call for Proposals. Potential partners may also want also to identify and approach other potential partners and consortia by themselves.

In principle it is possible to participate for the same organization/ institution to participate in several proposals.

The call criteria for the upcoming Call for Proposals is planned to be published in June 2021, the required size of the applicant consortia will be determined therein . Unless it will be otherwise specified in the call text, the required size of the applicant consortia will have to be met during the submission phase and will have to be maintained during the evaluation, designation and start-up phase. Following the start-up phase, the KIC will have to ensure openness to new partners, which is an important element of the EIT KIC model. All information and any update relating to the upcoming EIT Call for KIC Proposals will be posted on the EIT’s call page.

Membership in a current EIT KIC is not required to participate in a consortium for the upcoming call.

A newly designated KIC is expected to expand its partnership beyond the initial consortium after the start-up period. In general, KICs have to comply with the principle of openness, since high degree of their calls for proposal shall be open to non-KIC partners.

Openness is an underlying principle set out in the EIT’s strategy. To become a member of the KIC once it has been designated, the KIC lays down specific modalities on how to accede to the partnership. It will be for the partnership to define requirements for membership, including financial arrangements, within the overall parameters of the EIT model.

In accordance with the Horizon Europe Regulation (Article 22), entities regardless of the place of establishment are eligible for participation in the EIT Call for Proposals. The EIT’s Call will result in the designation of the winning consortium by the EIT Governing Board (no funding will be awarded at this stage of the procedure).

As regards eligibility for funding, the designated winning consortium will receive funding for the start-up phase of the KIC: as a general rule, entities from EU Member States and Horizon Europe associated countries are eligible for funding (Article 23 of the Horizon Europe Regulation).

Information regarding the state of play of Horizon European association procedures can be found on the Funding and Tenders Portal, in the Horizon Europe Online Manual.

Organisations from other countries are eligible for participation in the Call for Proposals, in accordance with the Horizon Europe Regulation. Entities from these countries will be eligible for funding if these countries will become associated to the Horizon Europe framework programme.

In line with Article 9(4) of the EIT Regulation, at least two thirds of the partner organisations forming a KIC shall be established in the EU Member States.

This will be determined by the winning consortium and as outlined in their respective proposal.

The requirements for hubs will be specified in the Call for Proposals. Co-location Centres are the main instrument for managing EIT KIC activities and knowledge flow at regional and local level. They bring together diverse teams from business, education and research in one specified physical location and provide the focal point for the KICs' activities in that area. Geographical proximity is essential to facilitate interactions among partners within a geographical area. In the EIT’s 2018 Call for Proposals, the applicants were requested to provide a maximum of five Co-location Centres at the proposal stage. Applicants were requested to provide concrete locations (city or town) for Co-location Centres in their proposals, ensuring that geographical proximity (clearly specifying and justifying regional coverage) and physical location principles were respected.

It is up to the applicant to propose the KIC’s operational model providing that it will be in line with the requirements set out in the Call for Proposals.

If the term “Hub” is referring to a “Co-Location Centre”, then this is a possibility if proposed as part of the strategy of one consortium that applies and, if this consortium is eventually designated as KIC. If the term “Hub” is referring to Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) Hubs, this is also possible. RIS Hubs are established following a thorough needs analysis and are subject to an open call to be launched by the designated KIC.

KICs are free to choose their legal form for the KIC Legal Entity, as long as they respect good governance principles stipulated by the EIT.

The EIT Governing Board, provides strategic guidance to the KICs, selects new ones and also determines the grant allocation for each KIC based on performance. The EIT then supervises and monitors its KICs. Contractually, the EIT concludes a Partnership Agreement (including the KIC’s seven-year strategy) and the grant agreements (annual or multiannual) with each KIC.

An EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community is a partnership that brings together partner organisations from the sectors and industries, including from business, education and research. They develop and offer a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship activities across Europe: entrepreneurial education courses, business creation and acceleration services and innovation driven research projects. This results in:

  • Training of a new generation of entrepreneurs
    • Development of innovative products and services for the sectors and industries
    • Creation of new companies and acceleration of existing ones

Through its Knowledge and Innovation Communities, the EIT strengthens cooperation among businesses (including SMEs), higher education institutions and research organisations. Partners form dynamic pan-European partnerships and create favourable environments for creative thought processes and innovations to flourish. Real sustainable products, services, entrepreneurs, creators, innovators, scientists, companies, revenue, profit and jobs are emerging from the EIT Community, right here in Europe – concrete results and impact from Europe’s, if not the world’s, largest innovation ecosystem.

Since EIT grants are financed by EU public funds, EIT beneficiaries are required to actively engage in communication activities, to promote their activities and achievements and to publicly acknowledge the EIT and EU support, all contributing to building the EIT Community brand. For further guidance on communicating EU research and innovation, please refer to the Online Manual on the EU Funding & Tenders Portal.

As outlined in the EIT SIA 2021-2027, there are various mechanisms for EIT KICs to cooperate. This includes designated funding for joint projects and activities such as the EIT’s new action on boosting the innovation capacity of Higher Education Institutes as well as on topics such as circular economy and A.I. EIT Cross-KIC cooperation projects (currently EUR 30 million per year).

One of the main added values of the EIT's unique innovation model is to integrate the education dimension into the innovation web as it has often been absent from the more traditional research-business partnerships.

The EIT supports the creation of an entrepreneurial culture and attitude. Under a framework provided by the EIT, the Knowledge and Innovation Communities develop their own education programmes that have a very strong focus on the delivery of entrepreneurship and innovation skills and are tailored to the needs of the European innovation system. These innovative programmes are based on partnerships between different universities, companies and research centres that collaborate closely and offer double degrees, international and cross-sectorial mobility experiences, as well as different forms of applied innovation and entrepreneurship education depending on the needs of the sectors linked to the societal challenge.

To set these programmes apart, the EIT has introduced the EIT Label as a certificate of quality that is awarded only to excellent educational programmes. Programmes, modules and courses that have the EIT Label build on five groups of quality criteria: EIT Overarching Learning Outcomes (EIT OLOs); robust entrepreneurship education; highly integrated, innovative ‘learning-by-doing’ curricula; mobility, the European dimension and openness to the world; outreach strategy and access policy.

There is no specific template, the EIT model is based on a high level of flexibility and autonomy. The EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities and their education partners are rather flexible in how they develop and design their own educational programmes to address the need for excellent entrepreneurial education with a strong focus on innovation skills. A KIC does not grant any programme as such, but Masters as well as doctoral programmes are developed by consortia of the KIC’s academic (and non-academic) partners. In these programmes, specialist knowledge is combined with skills that foster innovation and entrepreneurship through education and training. The programmes are based on partnerships between different higher education institutions, companies, research centres and public bodies who collaborate closely to offer a unique learning experience. Alignment with the EIT model is ensured through the EIT Label which sets concrete requirements that these programmes should follow.

The portfolio of KIC education activities can cover a wide range of target groups at different levels – including degree education, but also life-long learning, summer and winter schools, professional and executive training, wider citizen engagement as well as non-degree and non-formal education. Non-formal learning plays important role in the EIT education dimension. The EIT, together with its KICs is working on extending its flagship initiative in education – the EIT Label – beyond degree education and in the future the EIT Label should be extended to professional (or other non-formal) certification as well.

EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities are dynamic and creative partnerships that harness Europe’s innovation and entrepreneurship potential to find solutions to pressing societal challenges in areas with high innovation potential and to create quality jobs and growth. Since 2010, the EIT has established eight EIT KICs, tackling challenges from climate change to food sustainability to urban mobility to healthy living and active ageing.

An EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community carries out activities that cover the entire innovation pipeline: entrepreneurial training and education programmes, reinforcing the journey from research to the market through innovation projects, as well as business incubators and accelerators. The EIT’s role is to guide these activities and set the strategies, but it is up to each EIT KIC to put these into practice, deliver opportunities to beneficiaries and provide results.

The EIT is preparing an updated paper on its innovation model that will be made available in the coming months prior to the Call  for Proposals itself. Meanwhile, information about how existing EIT KICs work and the activities they deliver is available on the EIT website and EIT KICs’ websites:

The new KIC, EIT & Culture & Creativity is not an EU financial instrument per se. Its main purpose is to increase the innovation capacity of the sectors through the integration of the knowledge triangle. No other EU instrument addresses the needs of the CCSI under this angle and this is what makes the new KIC unique. In this context, a significant share of the activities of the new KIC will aim at supporting innovators and ventures at various stage of their development, notably in securing funding. It could be direct funding provided by the KIC, as well as support to access funding provided by public instruments (for example under InvestEU or Creative Europe) or private sources (venture capital, business angels, etc.). Through its ecosystem approach, the new KIC is thereby a perfect instrument to provide a tailor made approach to the funding needs of the stakeholders either by connecting them to the funding providers or by providing direct funding. 

The EIT call on Culture & Creativity will be a call for KIC proposals. They are ambitious large scale public-private partnerships, that will be funded for a long period of time (of up to 15 years), that implement a portfolio of activities linked to the integration of the three sides of the knowledge triangle, with education and training activities, innovation-led research activities and entrepreneurship or business support activities. The scope and size of the consortia of Creative Innovation Labs are different. Creative Inno Labs focuses exclusively on innovation on content creation, access, distribution, new business models and audience engagement through collaborative work across different creative sectors, using the full potential of new digital technologies and data. In 2021, actions should focus on three distinctive activities: rights management and data collection, greening and innovative educational tools addressing disinformation.

The EIT and the EIC are complementary EU funding programmes and have already concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure close cooperation. Depending on your specific need for innovation support and the maturity level of your start-up / scale-up you may consider the EIT or the EIC. The EIC supports innovative start-ups / scale-ups through open calls to provide for acceleration services through with a combination of grant and equity funding. The EIC also has calls for earlier stage breakthrough innovation via its Pathfinder calls. The EIT powers entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their best ideas into products, services and jobs for Europe. As such, a cornerstone of the EIT’s activities is to support innovation in existing companies and the creation of new business opportunities. The vital ingredients in fostering entrepreneurial activities are ensuring access to finance, access to new customers and new markets as well as providing support for enhancing business skills. Through their business creation and acceleration programmes, all EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities (EIT KICs) offer a wide range of business support services that help entrepreneurs and innovators translate their ideas into successful, thriving ventures. These services focus on areas such as support for technology, market assessment, access to human resources, access to new markets and customers, mentoring and, last but not least, access to seed and venture capital. The EIT Community's added value stems from supporting entrepreneurs through the network of EIT innovation hubs and contacts, and offering opportunities and activities tailored to each stage of an idea to be turned into a successful and impact innovation.

10 % of EIT budget 2021-2027 (approx. EUR 2.9 billion) will be dedicated to the EIT’s new Knowledge and Innovation Communities for CCSI (2021) and water (2026).

In line with the funding requirements of the EIT SIA 2021-2027, new KICs can expect a funding rate up to 100% in years 1-4, up to 80% in years 5-7 (this is applicable at portfolio level).

Additionally, some activities can be funded up to 100% irrespective of KIC operating year.

There is no pre-determined breakdown for a KIC on how to spend their EIT funding. However, the EIT SIA sets certain earmarked amounts, e.g. 10-15 % should be spent on the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS).

Joint activities between EIT KICs (i.e. Cross-KIC activities), the EIT’s new activity for boosting innovation in Higher Education Institutions and EIT RIS activities may receive EIT funding for up to 100% of the eligible expenditure.

Innovation projects of KICs are for collaboration between actors of the knowledge triangle to develop concrete innovations and solutions to societal challenges. Funding is made available by the EIT to the KIC for a portfolio of activities. KICs are responsible for launching calls and selecting specific projects monitored by the EIT.

Funding is made available by the EIT to the KIC for a portfolio of activities and in line with the principles for financing, monitoring and evaluation of KIC activities. Each KIC launches its calls in the thematic field in accordance with the KIC’s 7-year Strategic Agenda and objectives, and selects specific projects. The project selection procedures of each KIC are monitored by the EIT. KICs also participate in Cross-KIC projects.

The EIT provides grants to KICs in line with the EU Financial Regulation, Horizon Europe rules and the EIT Regulation.

The EIT is fully aligned with HE eligibility rules, so allowed as long as foreseen in HE provisions, in compliance with the applicable rules.

As any KIC, the future EIT Culture and Creativity will have to become financially sustainable over the next 7-15 years. It will need to build its own revenues from different activities and attract other sources of funding to replace the EIT funding over time. It will also have to adhere to the financial sustainability principles.

The EIT tracks and evaluates the innovation ecosystems created by its KICs in the areas of their societal challenges. This will apply for the KIC in CCSI too. The EIT applies an impact-led approach to planning, creating, and monitoring impact through its Impact Framework. A set of KPIs are specifically designed to measure and monitor the progress made by KICs towards creating sustainable innovation ecosystems.

Ensuring the pan-European impact on the societal challenge, human capital, job creation, economic growth etc. are key factors to be considered for potential applicants. Additionally, the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme will need to become an integral part of its operations. The EIT RIS will contribute to the advancement of the innovation performance of moderate and modest innovator countries and their regions by strengthening the capacity of their innovation enablers and actors and linkages among them (such as business accelerators, incubators, start-ups, scale-ups, businesses including SMEs, agencies, education and research institutions, and their infrastructures, etc.) through the dissemination of the knowledge triangle (business, education and research) integration approach. This is the cornerstone of the EIT intervention logic.

As part of the transition to Horizon Europe, the EIT will move to a system of multiannual grants and fully integrated in the European Commission’s grant management system.

The need for a KIC legal entity is central to the EIT model. The EIT has recently updated the good governance principles that a KIC must comply with. Based on these good governance principles it is then up to the KIC to propose an efficient legal and corporate structure. In the first year after designation (“start-up year”), a new KIC will be supported by the EIT and may receive financial support (“start-up grant”) to become legally and operationally ready.

The EIT also has a strong focus on simplification to ensure its the model is continuously improved.

Questions relating to the EIT Call for Proposals must be submitted via the Contact Us Page on the EIT website. Information on the Call will be regularly updated on the dedicated page on the EIT website and will include answers to all questions that have been submitted to the EIT. It is therefore strongly recommended to regularly consult the website.

All information and any update relating to the upcoming EIT Call for KIC Proposals will be posted on the EIT’s KIC Call page.

CCSIs are sectors with a high growth potential, many grass-roots initiatives, and strong citizen appeal. They are strongly embedded in their local and regional ecosystems. However, CCSIs remain very fragmented with many innovators and creators lacking much needed entrepreneurial and innovation skills. These bottlenecks could be well tackled by an EIT KIC thanks to the EIT innovation model that is based on the knowledge triangle integration approach, a long-term perspective, and place-based approach.

The choice of an appropriate form for the legal entity for a Knowledge and Innovation Community is crucial. It integrates the partners into a partnership and is the intermediary for any communications between the EIT and the partnership. The legal structure chosen by each Knowledge and Innovation Community reflects the initial commitment of the various partners and its business model. But more importantly, it has a bearing on their performance and long-term commitment. In addition, the choice of legal entity determines the governance structure of the Knowledge and Innovation Community. Whatever the structure, its leading principle must be business-like logic and flexibility to take quick decisions. The KIC may autonomously decide on the governance structure adopted, as well as draft and approve its bylaws regulating the partnership and business model, as long as the EIT good governance principles are respected.

Based on the experience of the existing EIT KICs, it will be necessary for new KICs to develop financial plans and a portfolio of activities with partners leading to their financial sustainability. EIT KICs need to develop revenues from innovation, education and business creation activities for example in the form of IP revenues, new products sales revenue sharing, and consulting services fees, but also develop financial assets for more long-term revenues for example in form of equity positions. 

Partnership is an essential feature of a Knowledge Innovation Community, and a requirement of the EIT’s aim to bring together players from across the knowledge triangle in a balanced and collaborative manner. This is determined, to a large extent, by the commitment of each individual partner involved and the respective framework determined by each KIC. This reflects not only the diversity of partners – from start-up companies and SMEs to major universities, from students to experienced researchers and entrepreneurs – but also of the different excellent approaches to innovation and entrepreneurship. EIT encourages the participation of SMEs in KIC Partnerships.