The EU’s new technology funding body, the European Innovation Council (EIC), is supposed to be a place where people can pitch wild ideas and win funding to pursue them.

Helping make this vision reality is the head of Science Foundation Ireland and chief science adviser to the Irish government, Mark Ferguson, who last month was picked to head a 22-strong board of research and technology experts overseeing EIC’s rollout.

EIC is intended to emerge as a fully-fledged body in 2021, armed with €10 billion from the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. It will bring together experienced investors, entrepreneurs and academics to act as programme managers, assessing projects looking for EU backing.

In theory these programme managers will have broad autonomy to support bold and scientifically interesting projects, with either grants or equity investment.

Ferguson and the board will meet up to six times a year to advise on EIC’s overall strategy and the hiring of programme managers. Hermann Hauser, one of Europe’s best-known venture capitalists, is vice chair of the group, having previously advised on the council’s pilot phase. 

The board’s job is to help create a “world-leading agency,” introducing the commission to best practices from around the world.

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