Key Enabling Technologies

AIRI – Italian Association for Industrial Research – has started in 2012 specific initiatives devoted to support and promote Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) at the national level.

This webpage provides a summary of reference documentation and information on the activities of the Association on KETs. In particular, it details information on the following:

  • The European approach toward Key Enabling Technologies
  • The AIRI KETs Working Group
  • AIRI Reports and Events on KETs
  • References

The European approach toward Key Enabling Technologies
Key Enabling Technologies refer to the following six technology domains:
1. micro-nanoelectronics
2. nanotechnology
3. photonics
4. industrial biotechnology
5. advanced materials
6. advanced manufacturing technologies

The European Commission established a High Level Group composed of experts from industry and academia to investigate the role of KETs for the European economy and provides advice on policy initiatives on this area.
The HLG produced some reference reports that are guiding the definition of the future European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.

The definition of KETs provided by the European Commission and the HLG is:

“KETs are knowledge intensive and associated with high R&D intensity, rapid innovation cycles, high capital expenditure and highly-skilled employment. They enable process, goods and service innovation throughout the economy and are of systemic relevance. They are multidisciplinary, cutting across many technology areas with a trend towards convergence and integration. KETs can assist technology leaders in other fields to capitalise on their research efforts.”

KETs will be a core part of the Horizon 2020 programme, that will provide specific and innovative funding instruments toward cooperative research on KETs, focusing on 3 pillars related to the stage of development of the technologies and applications considered:

  • Technological research;
  • KET pilot line and demonstrator projects;
  • Competitive manufacturing and KET deployment projects.

KETs have a cross-cutting, systemic relevance for industrial growth in Europe and ask to the stakeholders (Member States, industry, academia) a coordinated approach in R&I policies to fully benefit from their exploitation.

The AIRI KETs Working Group
The European approach toward KETs deployment could be an opportunity for increasing Italy R&I performances and improving the transfer of research results to the market, fundamental for the benefit of the national industry and the economy.

A comprehensive understanding of the national situation on KETs is essential to identify challenges and opportunities that the EU approach to KETs will offer to the national industrial and R&D players. Therefore, AIRI with the support of the National Research Council (CNR), established in 2012 the Working Group on “Key Enabling Technologies”, aiming to assess their impact and define a vision on KETs at the national level.

The WG, composed of experts from industry and academia, undertakes in 2012 an assessment of the contribution of KETs in priority technologies for the Italian industry ( identified on a regular basis, since the ‘90s, by AIRI with the contribution of its members).
Preliminary results of this activity have been presented during the workshop “Key Enabling Technologies: a link between public and private research” , held at the CNR headquarters in Rome (December 5th, 2012).

The Working document “Key Enabling Technologies: their role in the priority technologies for the Italian industry” is going to be published within April 2012.

Overall conclusions of the report were:

  • KETs have a strong impact on the national industry: they contribute to all industrial sectors and in the majority of priority technologies, with a cross-cutting impact on the value chain of several applications and products.
  • Public-private cooperation is instrumental for KETs development, both on R&D, and on sustainability and responsibility aspects
  • Coordination amongst national stakeholders and with EU initiatives on KETs is a short term priority
  • The different stage of maturity of KETs might ask for different development and cooperation approaches and models
  • A precise road mapping exercise and SWOT analysis should be needed as a follow up of the analysis of this report.

AIRI reports and events on KETs

Le Key Enabling Technologies. Un’occasione per la competitività del sistema industriale italiano, AIRI, 2014 (Language: Italian)
Key Enabling Technologies: their role in the priority technologies for the Italian industry, Working document, AIRI Working Group on KETs, April 2013
Priority Technologies for the Italian Industry (Tecnologie Prioritarie per l’Industria Italiana: Innovazioni per il prossimo futuro), AIRI, December 2012 (Italian only)


NanotechItaly 2014: cross-cutting KETs for Responsible Innovation, November 26-28th, 2014
Key Enabling Technologies,  presentation by AIRI and Edison Foundation, Milan, May 20th, 2014
– NanotechItaly 2013: Key Enabling Technologies for responsible Innovation, Venice, 27-29 November 2013
Key Enabling Technologies: a link between public and private research, National Research Council (CNR), Rome, December 5th, 2012

– European Commission webpage on KETs
– Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU, European Commission, 30.9.2009, COM(2009) 512
– Final Report, HIGH LEVEL EXPERT GROUP (HLG), Key Enabling Technologies, June  2011
A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies – A bridge to growth and jobs, European Commission, 26.6.2012, COM(2012) 341

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