Erasmus University Rotterdam a lead partner in the new EIT Culture & Creativity

A game-changing organisation for a prosperous Europe
The ICE team in Budapest

The Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) has selected the ICE Partnership to establish the EIT Culture & Creativity. The ninth Innovation Community is set to start operations in 2023 with the mission to boost the competitiveness of European Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries (CCSI) and strengthening their role as drivers of prosperity for Europe. Erasmus University Rotterdam is proud to be involved from early on as one of the lead partners of EIT Culture & Creativity.

Erasmus University Rotterdam participates as Lead Partner in the “ICE- Innovation by Creative Economy” partnership that was selected from among five international consortia in a process finalised on June 22nd, in Budapest, Hungary. This partnership, coordinated by Fraunhofer and chaired by interim CEO Bernd Fesel, is designed to unlock the latent value of the cultural and creative sectors and industries to become a game-changer for Europe’s Green, Digital and Social Transformation. EIT Culture & Creativity will receive over 150 million euros support from the EIT over two seven-year periods before becoming self-sustainable.

Upon the “Created in Europe” motto, the ICE partnership assembles a carefully crafted pan-European consortium of 50 excellent universities, research institutions, companies, investors, and associations relevant to all CCSI in 20 nations. “Diversity is the front door to innovation. We are proud to have built a consortium that is diverse in many ways, but especially one that honours the nature of European CCSI: ours is a sector made by multitude of SMEs and very small players”, says Bernd Fesel, Interim CEO and spokesperson of the winning team.

The CCSI are key drivers of economic growth and job creation across Europe. They account for 5.5 percent of the EU's total GDP and 6.2 percent of Europe's workforce, 80% for all 2.9 million CCSI companies are small and micro enterprises. At the same time, they are not just business -they stand for European diversity as well as its unity. EIT Culture & Creativity will be key to support Europe’s recovery and cohesion. “This will be an Open innovation Community: open to entrepreneurs, artists, freelancers, social innovators, cultural agents. Innovation and change are possible when the all players -the large and the small, for profit and non-profit- meet at eye level in collaboration spaces for addressing pressing societal challenges”, concludes Fesel.

The innovations of Cultural

Erasmus University Rotterdam is a Lead Partner in the Consortium and was involved in the proposal from an early stage. “As a rule, in the Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries (CCSI) extraordinarily creative and innovative people chase their dreams with minimal resources”, says Associate Professor of Cultural Economics Christian Handke, who co-ordinated EURs participation over the last 2 and a half years, “imagine what they can achieve with better support! There is huge potential for the EIT Cultural & Creativity to upskill CCSI stakeholders, and to help them better integrate their efforts into the wider economy and society.”

According to Handke, by European CCSI standards, the amazing resources of this initiative will attain broad and sustainable results for years to come. “The EIT Culture & Creativity illustrates that the CCSI is becoming central in innovation policy, which is a breakthrough for our sector. For Erasmus University Rotterdam, our prominent role in this initiative means we have an exceptional opportunity to promote our positive societal impact. I am looking forward to learning and innovating together with many excellent partners.”

A pan-European public-private partnership

EIT Culture & Creativity is a pan-European public-private partnership of 50 excellent universities, research institutions, companies, investors, and associations relevant to all Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries (CCSI) in 20 nations. The ICE- Innovation by Creative Economy partnership, coordinated by Fraunhofer and chaired by interim CEO, Bernd Fesel, was selected from among five consortia. 

With headquarters in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, EIT Culture & Creativity will have six subsidiary offices, called Co-Location Centres, in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna, Helsinki, Kosice and Vienna. These regional hubs will realise this open vocation by engaging and channelling needs and expectations of local and regional ecosystems. These centres will inspire students, researchers, public and private partners, and help them identify new opportunities.

The role of Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam is a Lead Partner and was involved from an early stage in this winning proposal. “This is a huge step for our university towards EU wide academic and societal impact. We knew that preparing this would require a significant time investment but we decided to do it because we recognized the potential for the CCSI and for our ecosystem. We took a risk and it paid off”, says Adrian Sneeuw, head of Research Grants Support.

EUR’s participation in EIT Culture & Creativity has been a EUR wide effort and collaboration between the academic staff from Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (Dean Martine van Selm, Christian Handke (academic coordinator), Pauwke Berkers, Erik Hitters, Ellen Loots, Mariangela Lavanga, Paul van de Laar), Rotterdam School of Management (Daan Stam and Dirk Deichmann), and Professional Services colleagues from Erasmus Research Services (Meri Georgievska-van de Laar, Adrian Sneeuw and Bastiaan van der Zeeuw), and Academic Affairs (Rene Teunissen).

“Culture is not only our common language, it also an innovating ecosystem. The new EIT Culture & Creativity Innovation Community will capitalise on the unique richness of European diversity to guarantee that creatives are ingrained in the pan-European Innovation Ecosystem. I look forward to observing the growth of this sector's innovators and start-ups under EIT's innovative approach, which has had a significant impact on the lives of Europeans over the previous decade.” - Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner

Knowledge Innovation Communities

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) strengthens Europe’s ability to innovate by powering solutions to pressing global challenges and by nurturing entrepreneurial talent to create sustainable growth and skilled jobs in Europe. The EIT is an EU body and an integral part of Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The Institute supports dynamic pan-European partnerships, EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities, composed of leading companies, research labs and universities each dedicated to solving a pressing global challenge, from climate change to health, to renewable energy. Together with their leading partners, the EIT Community offers:

  • entrepreneurial education degrees and courses
  • business creation and acceleration services
  • innovation driven research projects

Find out more via the website of the EIT.

EIT Culture & Creativity logo
More information

Contact Spokesperson EIT Culture & Creativity: Bernd Fesel, Phone: 0049-174-6079440
Press contact:  Dr. Johanna Leissner, Fraunhofer, Phone: 0049-172-2094398
Contact EUR:

Read the EIT press release.

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