To help provide more insight on the daily tasks of an EIC Programme Manager (PM), we spoke with the EIC PM for materials for energy and environmental sustainability, innovation management, Francesco Matteucci. Francesco is an innovation manager with 20 years of experience spent as a researcher in materials science, as a Corporate R&D Manager within the field of technologies for renewable energy production and storage, and has an intermediary of knowledge trying to exploit the research results within the field of energy and environment. As R&D Corporate manager, he also cofounded and directed several start-ups and joint-labs managing public-private partnerships. He has served as an EIC Programme Manager since October 2020. Here is what he has to say about his current position as an EIC PM.
1 – Can you please describe in a few words the role and tasks of an EIC Programme Manager?
Francesco Matteucci: As a premise, I want to underline that the Programme Manager (PM) is a new role for European Commission (EC) within a new EC agency, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA). Therefore, the PMs roles and tasks are not yet carved in stone. Moreover, each PM will differently “develop” their activities, bringing their own style, experience and knowledge of their field. Overall, the main task of the PMs is to provide the ‘content’ leadership to the EIC, thus making it more than a generic one-stop-shop for deep-tech innovation, but a programme that is aware of the key challenges, specific hurdles and opportunities in emerging technology areas. Thus, PMs are the sectorial “content” wise EIC team leaders, able to guide strategically, both scientifically and innovation wise, EIC funded projects and partners towards genuine impacts.
We could summarise the PMs main tasks with 3 strategic “activities”:
1. Study (science and innovation intelligence activity): PMs study and discuss with worldwide experts the future sectorial R&D&I trends/ideas, and identify emerging challenges for Europe’s deep-tech roadmap. Some of these challenges are addressed by EIC calls (e.g., for early stage technological exploration, de-risking or for transitioning to a concrete purpose and market), one of the PM’s tools for achieving its vision.
2. Steer (portfolio hands-on activity): PMs strategically oversee portfolios of projects that share goals or the same scientific/business area. PMs then co-design, in collaboration with projects partners and worldwide experts, a portfolio implementation plan to facilitate the innovation journey, from early stage interdisciplinary research, to innovation and, ultimately, to launching them on the way to business creation and growth.
3. Engage (stakeholder engagement and community management activity): PMs are EIC ambassadors that promote the EIC and design strategic partnerships with the different sectorial (portfolio) ecosystem of innovation actors (e.g. scientists, innovation managers, entrepreneurs, VCs, policy makers, etc.) in order to facilitate the EU’s tech sovereignty. Besides, PMs work with other EC experts to enhance coherence and synergy among the different European funding programmes.
2 – In your view, what is the ideal profile of an EIC Programme Manager?
FM: It is not easy to draw an ideal profile of an EIC PM. In my honest opinion, an EIC PM should know the research and innovation ecosystem of its area or sector very well, possibly having worked in different roles within it. He/she should have a solid scientific background and a strong innovation management expertise. In fact, he/she will have to work alongside the whole sectorial R&D&I value chain, spanning from very low TRL (pathfinder portfolio) up to high TRL (accelerator portfolio). He/she should also be used to speaking and engaging with different partners and stakeholders inside and outside the European Commission. If I may add, he/she should be an open-minded, curious, strategic-thinking leader.
3 – What is the most challenging/interesting part of your job as EIC Programme Manager?
FM:Maybe the most challenging part of my job is to make an impact the portfolio innovation pathways “producing” high quality, strategic-thinking results under major constraints. Another challenge is to give priorities to our tasks, while being involved in many different activities. This means we have to put in place a “flexible” ambidextrous (short and long-term) action plan studying the science and business side of our portfolios, identifying the best experts with whom to discuss our and their sectorial ideas and then co-design/implement the action plans. The most interesting part of my job is that we are part of a new team, made of experienced colleagues, and we can influence the long-term project of the EU deep tech ecosystem of innovation development. Another really interesting thing is that we discuss daily with sectorial worldwide experts sharing our experiences, therefore learning a lot, sharing our experiences and testing new innovation pathways.
Want to join Francesco as an EIC Programme Managers? Apply now.
Deadline is 30 September.
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