Key Enabling Technologies

Defining KETs

Based on current global research and market trends, KETs have the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge and capital intensive technologies;
  • High research and development (R&D) intensity;
  • Rapid and integrated innovation cycles;
  • High capital expenditure;
  • Highly-skilled employment.

Their influence is pervasive, enabling process, product and service innovation throughout the economy. They are of systemic relevance, multidisciplinary and transsectorial, cutting across many technology areas. As a result, Advanced Materials, Nanotechnology, Nano & Microelectronics, Photonics, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing have been identified as KETs.

Defining multi-KETs

Each KET cannot be considered as self-contained in an innovation strategy, but must be seen as a basic building block to develop and manufacture advanced products. In that sense, the latter are the “multi-KETs box”, where the final good is a combination of each of these technologies. Electrical cars with low friction tyres (nanotechnology), high performance batteries (advanced materials), high efficient LED for Lighting (Photonics) and sensors (Nanoelectronics) are non -exclusive examples of the mutli-KETs box.

KETs are embedded in intermediate products (for example LED needs advanced materials and nanoelectronics technologies) which are the key element of final products to be sold to citizens. And these products will be the basis of innovative solutions and services contributing to grand societal challenges. Those intermediate products are a combination of several KETs (multi-KETs) that can be assembled/added into the final product.

Crucial Role of KETs

On 26 June 2012, the European commission adopted the proposal for an action plan on a European effort to boost key enabling technologies (KETs). KETs are the true “raw materials for innovation and the green economy”. They are the technological building blocks that will be used to construct any technology or innovative high-tech products in the next few years. These are all key to the production of smart grids, solar panels, photovoltaic cells, electric cars, satellites and virtually all kinds of cutting-edge goods in general, for example in smart phones and PCs. They are estimated to have contributed about 650 billion euros to the international economy in 2008 and this figure is projected to grow to over 1 trillion euros in 2015. This is why Europe must boost the industrial production of KETs-based products.