Dr. Károly Molnár, minister without portfolio in charge of Science, Research and Innovation, Dr. József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Prime Minister Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsány, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Ms. Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, vice-President of the European Parliament and Ms. Valérie Pécresse, French Minister of Higher Education and Research, Representative of the French Presidency spoke at the opening.
In their speeches, the speakers stressed: It is vital for Europe to put its research and innovation activities to the forefront of the world, as set out in the recently revised Lisbon Agenda of 2000. The newly founded Institute may play a key role in achieving the above objective. The primary task of EIT shall be to foster cooperation among the stakeholders of higher-education, research and business sectors. The creation of the Institute shall not limit the research autonomy of member-states; it shall provide an opportunity to coordinate their separate activities. EIT shall focus its activities on certain pre-defined priority research areas, and shall disburse funding to applicants based on excellence.
At the press conference after the event, Mr. Károly Molnár reiterated: that, in September, the government adopted measures necessary for the set-up of the Institute, and also ensured funding for the Hungarian undertakings (i.e. to cover the 20-year rent for the building hosting EIT and the wages of 20 employees of the Institute for 5 years). Ján Figel, member of the European Commission said at the press conference: that the foundation of EIT is a turning point on the path towards achieving the Lisbon Goals. It shall play a fundamental role in transferring the knowledge created by research units to the market, thus in making research a true driving force of innovation. On top of that, the Institute fits in with the structure of EU perfectly – Mr. Figel added.
The first meeting of the EIT Governing Board started at 2 p.m., where its first chairperson was elected. Following the meeting at the door-step press-briefing, the new Chairman of the Board, Mr. Martin Schuurmans said: that it is high-time to give European research fresh impetus and make it top-class on the global scene.
Out of his several-decade academic, industrial research and research management experience, Mr. Martin Schuurmans emphasized his basic research activities at Philips, where he worked in the fields of supraconductors and semiconductors; i.e. whatever was considered the hottest at the time, as he put it. As a Chairman, he will chair the meetings of the Governing Board, set the Agenda for them, and supervise the implementation of their decisions. Talking of his own management style, he added: he always considered that his primarily task is to ensure that the necessary decisions are made. "Listen, carefully negotiate, then decide" – that is how he summarized his management philosophy.
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