EIC provisions for inventors must strengthen universities as powerhouses of Europe’s innovation ecosystem
The Guild expresses concerns about the provisions in the Horizon Europe grant agreement that give ‘EIC inventors’ indefinite royalty-free access rights. Ensuring that universities across Europe have well-functioning knowledge and technology transfer offices would be a better approach to maximise the exploitation of research results.
The European Commission is about to adopt a New European Innovation Agenda with measures to strengthen innovation ecosystems to boost Europe’s innovation performance. The Guild highlights that universities are central actors in these ecosystems and that the cooperation between researchers and universities’ knowledge valorisation services is a crucial function of these systems.
The Guild raises nevertheless concerns that the standard Intellectual Property (IP) provisions in the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Pathfinder and Transition programmes create serious obstacles to knowledge valorisation in most universities. They presume that researchers are best placed to exploit their research outcomes. The provisions underestimate how complex knowledge transfer is and neglect the fact that many researchers do not systemically have sufficient skills and resources to engage in knowledge transfer. The universities’ knowledge and technology transfer offices (KTOs/TTOs) play a significant role in supporting and enabling the researchers to develop the results for commercial and societal purposes.
The provisions, as they currently stand, will negatively affect the functioning of already well-performing KTOs/TTOs without strengthening the capacities of weaker KTOs/TTOs. The Guild urges the European Commission to revise its approach and support instead capacity-building actions for KTOs/TTOs. Ensuring that well-functioning KTOs/TTOs are in place across Europe is critical for the emergence and development of strengthened pan-European innovation ecosystems which could underpin the competitiveness and strategic autonomy of Europe.
Moreover, the IP provisions lack clarity and sometimes conflict with institutional, national, and regional rules. It is important that the Commission acknowledges the universities’ diverse strategies and practices in knowledge valorisation across Europe to improve the coherence of the provisions with national and regional regulations.
Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, said: “Universities are bedrock of the innovation ecosystem. We call on the Commission to strengthen our capacities to support researchers exploit the innovation from their ground-breaking research, as key to the success of the European Innovation Agenda.”
24 May 2022