Skills for Key Enabling Technologies - Putting Europe back on track in the race for competitiveness and bridging to growth and jobs

An innovative, sustainable Europe depends on the development and growth of key enabling technologies (KETs):
•    micro- and nanoelectronics,
•    advanced materials,
•    industrial biotechnology,
•    photonics,
•    nanotechnology
•    advanced manufacturing systems

Deploying these technologies through a properly skilled workforce can help Europe maintain or gain a competitive edge in the future.
With the service contract on ‘Key enabling technologies (KETs) observatory’ launched in January 2014 the European Commission DG ENTR is supporting the development and operation of a key enabling technologies (KETs) observatory for 2013–2015, based on the first results and lessons learned during the feasibility study (2011–2012). The KETs observatory has the aim to provide European and national policymakers and business stakeholders on a regular basis with reliable and representative data and analysis on the deployment of KETs.

The service contract builds on the European Commission strategy tabled on 26 June 2012 in which the Commission describes its strategy to boost the industrial production of KETs-based products, e.g. innovative products and applications of the future. The strategy aims to keep pace with the EU’s main international competitors, restore growth in Europe and create jobs in industry, at the same time addressing today's burning societal challenges.

"A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies - A bridge to growth and jobs" Communication adopted on 26 June 2012.

The background to this strategy is the Commission Communication "Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU" COM(2009)512 which has

identified those Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) that strengthen the EU’s industrial and innovation capacity to address the societal challenges ahead and proposes a set of measures to improve the related framework conditions. As such, it forms part of the development of EU industrial policy and of the preparation for the new European plan for innovation.

The Communication is complemented by the Staff Working Document "Current situation of key enabling technologies in Europe" SEC(2009)1257 that explains why advanced materials, nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics, biotechnology and photonics have been identified as priority areas for improving European industrial competitiveness.

The Communication set up a high-level expert group tasked with developing a shared longer term strategy and action plan on the identified KETs. This group was launched by Vice-Presidents Antonio Tajani, Neelie Kroes and Commissioner Maíre Geoghegan-Quinn on 13 July 2010 with a mandate of one year. The group presented its final report to the Commission on the 28 June 2011.

The Communication outlines ten policy areas which need to be addressed, including focusing innovation policy more on KETs, promoting more EU-wide technology transfer, as well as more joint strategic programming and demonstration projects, not to mention greater international co-operation. The European Commission also recommends the harnessing of targeted and fair state aid policy, lead markets, public procurement and venture capital financing as ways of stimulating key enabling technologies.