Last week I had the honor of joining the EIT (see blog post from October 31st) stakeholders conference in Larnaca, Cyprus.
The main theme of the conference was: “addressing societal challenges through the EIT”. The current EIT infrastructure consists of three KIC’s (Knowledge and Innovation Communities, pronounced as ‘kick’, you gotta love acronyms!), of which ICT Labs is one. The purpose of the conference was twofold. Firstly, results from the three current KIC’s were presented, elaborating on how their budget from the last few years was spent and what results where achieved. Secondly, plans for the future were shown, including the plan for 6 new KIC’s, backing their requested EU budget of € 3,3 billion (!) for the next 4 years.
I completely agree with the purpose and approach of EIT. Cross-national, cross-institutional cooperation between universities, research institutes and companies to promote innovation in Europe. If executed well, this can really make a difference and would help the European knowledge economy. My personal opinion however, is that EIT is in a sense just still a start-up in itself, only existing for a couple of years. Start-ups should aim high, SOWISO can relate, but such a huge growth in the organisation might be a bit too ambitious? It would definitely mean that the architecture of the network may have to be redesigned. I think so many different networks and lines of action will definitely mean increased competition of some sort in the EIT.
On the other hand, although it may still be a start-up, it is a well-equipped start-up with very capable and highly trained professionals and the best educational and business partners you can imagine.
SOWISO was invited to be present as an EIT “best-practice”, which of course, we are very proud of. We had the chance to meet many interesting people and our opinion on e-learning specific and learning in general was very much valued.
The conference was honored with the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education and Culture, with who I was able to have a short chat on our company and our plans. This even led to a last minute meeting when the conference ended with the rector and director of education from the Cyprus Technical University in Limassol. They were completely overwhelmed by our e-learning platform, although that may also be partly because they have never used any e-learning at all in their education. Even though I would value a new client, the fact that the CTU only offers courses in Greek may pose a serious challenge for our support-role…
Cyprus, holding the current EU-presidency, was a good host. The wonderful conference-center was erected especially for the presidency. I wonder if it will ever be used as intensively as these six months.