CULT questions to the European Institution of Innovation and Technology :04/12/2019

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to ask questions of the European Institution of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as part of my role as the rapporteur for CULT on the Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA). Put simply I am reviewing the impacts of the new proposals for EIT to continue in a wider capacity and am giving my considered opinion about this.

The SIA defines the priority fields and strategy for the EIT for the seven-year period concerned, in line with the objectives and priorities of Horizon Europe, and shall include an assessment of its socioeconomic impact and its capacity to generate the best innovation added-value.

As part of this I get to scrutinise the plans and raise questions within CULT and ITRE hearings about the plans for the commissioners to then respond to. This is my first legislative file and therefore a very interesting development for me, especially in light of the committees that I am involved with.

At CULT I had 3 questions (in Bold) that I felt needed answering and Vivienne Hoffman responded (in Italics here).
1. Could the European Commission please elaborate on the Higher Education Institutions involved in EIT and KIC activities?
My question was; “There’s a more than doubling of ambition for involvement of higher education institutions, of which 450 there’s a small line that says they will come from new action on education and it would be very interesting to have more information about what these few words mean. There is a concern that I’ve had expressed to me that we are going to be trying to interfere with education systems in Member States….

I’d also like to ask whether given the increase in budget, whether expanding, although I love the idea of education institutions being involved obviously this is something we support and we are CULT after all, but is 750 perhaps slightly over ambitious? And mostly what is it that is going to change what are you planning for the Member States?”

The response from EIT

Thank you for your support, we believe indeed as you said it out Mrs. Chairwoman that those industries have a huge potential in bringing innovations to the market. On the other hand, despite the high potential that there are still many barriers that need to be overcome. Market fragmentation and others and also the CCIs are strongly embedded in local and regional ecosystems but we also believe that the innovators and business creators in this sector still lack entrepreneurial skills and would deserve to be further supported within these innovation ecosystems. Also there’s no other potential partnership proposed so far that would address this. Now on education we strongly believe that this side of the triangle needs to be strong so that the other two sides of the triangle can continue to be strong and so far the education action has not deployed its full potential. Of course we would not interfere in the organization of the education system so we are strictly respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Nevertheless, what we want to set up is an offer that will be provided to higher education institutions across Europe, which also means that, the KICs should open up to new partners in the area of higher education. I think this is a very important goal to achieve.” VH

2. On the 2 new proposed KICs first KIC in the field of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) is proposed to be launched in 2022 …and the second new KIC could be launched in 2025 with a call to be published in 2024. …is that fully sustainable? Maybe we should wait with the decision on the second new KIC once all the KICs are fully financially sustainable?
“on… culture on creative industries KIC, this is a great idea … a very constructive idea, creative industries in the UK bring in 10 times the revenue of fishing, so it is a very important sector of Industry and there is a lot of potential for us to spread it out to spread the success out to other member states. However, having two KICs being proposed at the same time, to come on stream two or three years apart, is that actually sustainable? If we look at the first KICs, the three that were that have been through the full 14 year cycle, only one of them is currently financially sustainable according to the new model. The others are successful in their own ways I’m not trying to decry the actions of the EIT digital in the EIT climate, they’re both doing as far as I understand it, very good work but they are not financially sustainable. They have zero revenues, they have other investments but can we really be proposing the CCI KIC in 2022 and then another in 2025? That feels like an awful lot of money before we’ve actually worked out the financial model. Should we.. postpone the second new KIC for a few years yet?”

Their response: “On financial sustainability for us, this is a very important principle. The principle was there in the EIT regulation from the outset, but now we clarify it because we don’t think that the idea is to finance KICs forever. The idea is to help them strive and find other sources of finances over the years. Now we also don’t want the KICs to be disconnected from our European Union initiatives after this 15 year period and that’s why we have also proposed ways to maintain a relationship and possibly also possibilities for those KICs to participate in competitive calls after this period.

“…if we are ambitious in terms of setting up new KICs and we say that the second one should be proposed further down the line in the MFF period for this to happen, of course we need full financial sustainability of the first generation KICs in 2024. And that’s also why we have proposed in the new package a decrease in co-funding rate for the funding of the KICs to incentivise them further to search for financial sustainability and they all have different models. … I think an important clarification in our proposal on the regional dimension which is very important we fully agree the EIT should increase Geographic and out region and spread and not be concentrated in the few countries.

“And this is why we have proposed that the RIS scheme becomes compulsory …EIT has a regional innovation scheme since 2014. We want to strengthen it we want to make it compulsory as part of the KICs long term strategies and we also propose that at least 250 million will be earmarked for the RIS activity. Over the duration of the program in addition to 20% of the budget allocated to the new education action that would also go to higher education institutions from modest and moderate innovators on the types of industrial partners that the KICs include the places that it should be a variety bigger companies, SMEs, of course from all the different sectors. Now when it comes through the relationship with European universities the EIT KICs community has already developed its expertise in areas that are closed also to the objectives of the European universities, like innovative pedagogy in digital technologies, entrepreneurship and others and so we think that this will be a very complementary to the European universities initiative on social entrepreneurship. Yes, indeed our proposal for DSII includes reference to social innovation when it comes to the creative and cultural industries KIC.” VH

3. What about the appropriate mechanisms to involve third countries in the KICs… EIT director Martin Kern has said that it is unlikely that the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will be able to expand much beyond the borders of the EU, meaning partner institutions and companies in the UK will be affected by Brexit….What will this impact be?
The climate KIC has a key National Centre in London and understanding, as Martin Kemp has declared, the EIT Director, he said it’s unlikely that the EIT will be able to expand much beyond the borders of the EU, which is quite understandable. What will happen to the partner institutions and companies in the UK? How will they be affected by Brexit?”

“Finally, on Brexit the rule is the deregulation foresees that at least 2/3 of the KICs partners must come from new member states so in principle none of the KICs would become ineligible due to this criterion. But if the UK leaves without a withdrawal agreement the UK partners can continue to take part in KIC activities but would cease to be eligible for funding. So they would remain the country main KIC partners on a self-funding basis provided that is proportion of 2/3 of the KICs coming from new member states is maintained thank you” VH

Overall there is a positive working response and an ability for flexibility, however for new KICs we will need to ensure this is within their parameters and percentages with the other contributors. It is positive that there is a recognition of the UK contribution to the EIT initiative. We need to ensure that we remain part of this “Brighter Future”

MEP Life 20; Culture, Innovation, and toppling walls

WELCOME BACK. This week MEP Life has been all about the 30th year since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In my previous life as a documentary producer, I was lucky enough to travel a bit; telling science stories that were exciting and often important. In 1991, not long after the Berlin Wall came down, I was starting out as director on Tomorrow’s World, a prime time magazine show for BBC One about new developments in science and technology. With science in the east now available to us as well as West Berlin, I set off with a friend to make the Berlin Special. It was a fascinating location, time and subject to be exploring life in Berlin. The culture of innovation there was, even back then, fantastic. Back then the words CLIMATE and CHANGE had not yet been put together, the world wide web was only just invented, but I met people using virtual reality to remodel the Potsdammer Platz, engineers modeling designs on environmental forms and a community in Kreuzberg practicing environmental, sustainable living and cut water consumption, while the rest of world was asleep on the job

Fast-forward to 2019, and in this totally new career I find myself once again back in Berlin having been invited to talk at an event; ‘Berlin Wall, Falling Walls – Cultural Heritage & Innovation made in Berlin’ – an extraordinary honour. There were law-makers representing some 150 states, as well as a host of leading figures from the worlds of political theory, diplomacy, business and art

I was pleased to see that the unmissable energy of Berlin has not faded. Those 28 years during which it was a divided city seems to have encouraged Berliners to think and work differently. Through their isolation they were forced to consider not just what was around them, but what they could create, and they brought art and science together in a way that we now understand is going to be critical to the skills we need in the future

The day after the conference, I visited the Chatham House meeting on Europe’s Strategic choices where I took part in a discussion on future skills. The committees I sit on in the EU – Culture and Education (CULT) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) may have entirely different objectives, but they both understand the need for innovation

It is my belief that the best place to start is the cross fertilization between disciplines – this is where innovation comes in. Innovation often happens when experts look at their work or their field from a different point of view. Bringing researchers together from unlikely disciplines, such as art, science, music and technology can succeed in the most remarkable of ways.  In Berlin there is tremendous collaboration between the Arts University and the Technical University in the Berlin Open, an experimental space specifically for research projects that cross the borders between technology, arts and society.

Why does all this matter? At the end of the day, it’s innovation that drives employment, taxes and so all important services like schools and the NHS. Innovation drives our society forward.

In the Chatham House debate on ‘Skills Demand and the Future of Work’ I raised the issue of who how the so-called ‘gig-economy’ is often exploited to justify reduce short-term and zero-hours contracts and how this is then used to justify a lack of investment in staff training. Large employers which have the means must commit to investment in skills and training for their employees. That’s better for the employees, but also far more beneficial for the employers who doesn’t need to waste time, resources and money in cyclical recruitment. To be honest I was not sure how well this unfashionable message would be received, and I was relieved to hear murmurs of support around the room

Closer to home, I am delighted to report that the Lib Dem MEPs have appointed the wonderful Caroline Voaden as the new leader of our European delegation. I have the great pleasure of recording the podcast, ‘Our MEP Life’ with Caroline and I am in no doubt she will continue the outstanding work of Catherine Bearder the previous leader. 

This week we’re back in Brussels and I will report back from there next week! Then next week, it’s back to Strasbourg for another busy week in Plenary! Until then, take care!


LUX Film Festival in Bath

Hi there! Chris from Judith’s team here.

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend the FilmBath Festival with Judith. This festival is held to showcase the wide-ranging diversity of films made across the world. I love blockbusters, don’t get me wrong, but it’s amazing to see something out of the ordinary. They showcase foreign films, films directed by women, and support young people getting into making films.

Now, why would an MEP be specifically supporting a film festival?

28 Times Cinema

The film shown that evening was nominated for the LUX Prize, which is an EU project to help smaller films reach a wider audience across the continent. Many smaller films find it hard to gain international audiences, as it takes time and effort to market them internationally, especially if there are languages barriers. This is where the LUX prize steps in – it highlights these films and helps them get shown internationally. The top 3 films as selected by a panel of experts are translated into all 24 official working languages of the EU.

This evening, they showed a film called Ray & Liz, which is the first feature-length film by British artist and photographer, Richard Billingham. It depicts his childhood, filled with poverty, neglect and depression in a high-rise on the outskirts of Birmingham. For a full review, read here, or here.

It was great to see such support for the event, with a really full cinema. Judith spoke to the audience before the screening, discussing the importance of pan-European co-operation; without it, many of these films would never make it out of their own country. Distribution is the ‘Achilles heel’ of the film industry and this film prize tackles it head on! We will lose access to this project if we leave the EU.

The films are going on tour from now through February 2020. New dates appear in the UK as they find locations, so check in to see when they are appearing near you!

Speech from the LUX film festival

  • I am delighted to welcome you [the European Parliament Lux Film Prize reception and] this screening of Ray and Liz, one of the 10 films nominated for the Lux Film Prize for 2019.

My name is Judith Bunting and, some of you may know, I am a Member of the European Parliament and a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Education and Culture, which is responsible for financing and organising the Prix Lux.

  • You may be wondering why the European Parliament has a film prize?

Fiction and in particular the language of cinema Is well established as means of highlighting issues which face us all, From the Cathy Come Home through the Pelican Brief, to more recently I am Daniel BLAKE.

The LUX was created in part because the EU understands this and wants to encourage cinema as a platform for debate and reflection on Europe and the social, political, economic and environmental issues that we share.

It is a great form through which we can also examine our sense of a common European identity and our diversity.

The LUX prize was also set up to support the European film industry in practical terms. By promoting the distribution of major European (co-)productions beyond their national cinema markets.

We focus on distribution because we believe that this is the ‘Achilles heel’ of European cinema.

Unlike the largely unified North American market, the film industry in Europe faces organisational and economic difficulties, which are rendered even more difficult, of course, by the fabulous range of languages that we enjoy.

That is why the LUX Prize pays for the subtitling of the three shortlisted films into ALL 24 of the official languages of the European Union and screens them in all 28 Member states. We want European films to circulate beyond their national borders

In a couple of weeks, The winning film will be chosen by MEPs and the Lux prize will be awarded during the plenary session in Strasbourg in the presence of the film makers.

  • But Tonight …

I am not here to talk about them.

I am dleighted to be introducing to you; Ray and Liz, a UK entry to the competition From Richard BILLINGHAM which was one of the 10 nominees for the prize.

IF you would like to support Richard and the other British and European Film makers PLEASE go online and share trailesr and screening locations

I am honour bound to say, ALSO, If you really want to support the British Film industry- Please support the campaign to stop Brexit.

Being in the EU brings fantastic benefits to British Film and Media – so if you can please support your local remain candidate. working together we can still save the UK.

So, without further ado…

Many congratulations to Richard Billingham, the Director of RAY AND LIZ

And now – LET’S WATCH …