EC outlines super-university plans

A central institute to concentrate tech R&D is on the cards, and could be running by 2009

The European Union fleshed out its plans for the creation of a new landmark technology institute, an idea first suggested by the body in 2005.

The proposal for a "flagship for excellence" for tech innovation and research has been put before the European parliament.

The new European Institute of Technology (EIT) will be based across several sites and bring together academics and business interests. The institute will be run by a central governing board, which will oversee a collection of 'knowledge communities'.

The EC is hoping that the EIT will encourage companies to finance research into new technologies in return for a cut of the revenues they generate. The EIT will be bankrolled by the EC but individual member states will also contribute funding.

According to Ján Figel, European commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multillingualism, the Institute is necessary to improve Europe's poor record on turning the results of its R&D into commercial projects.

According to the EC, the EIT could be up and running from 2009.