Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)

The European Commission has defined six priority Key Enabling Technologies for Europe. The Commission has reported that mastering these technologies is regarded as crucial for ensuring the competitiveness of European industries in the knowledge economy. KETs enable the development of new goods and services and the restructuring of industrial processes needed to modernise EU industry and make the transition to a knowledge-based and low carbon resource-efficient economy.

Microelectronics and Embedded Systems. Microelectronics are the lifeblood of 40% of all innovations. Components and Integrated systems are found in virtually all electronic products; from computers and telephones to cars and buildings. The global turnover of the sector alone was around EUR 230 billion in 2012. Despite the current economic climate, the worldwide market for micro- and nano-electronics has grown by 5% per year since 2000. Further growth of at least the same magnitude is predicted for the remaining part of the current decade. In Europe, more than 240.000 people are directly employed in micro- and nano-electronics. Another aspect of why it matters is the establishment of European networks of embedded system design centres which are driven by the vision of "embedded ICT everywhere" and which stimulate connecting innovators across the value chain and across sectors and regions by conducting a critical mass of design and application experiments in application areas such as time-critical systems, or smart environments. In the coming years the market for the Internet of things will further develop, unlocking new economic growth and employment for the European regions. The connected car and smart buildings are only two examples representing EUR 730 billion in revenue.

Photonics: Photonics is everywhere around us: from communications and health, to lighting and photovoltaics and to everyday products like DVD players and mobile phones. Photonics is a fast-growing business sector, with a global market of around EUR 350 billion, projected to reach over EUR 600 billion by 2020. Europe has established a strong position with an overall total share of approximately 18% (€66 billion in 2012). The European photonics industry employs more than 300,000 people directly, many of these in the over 5,000 photonics SMEs often structured in national and regional innovation clusters which represent a highly educated workforce.

Robotics: Robotics has a huge potential to contribute to growth, job creation and to solve major societal challenges. In particular, regions should fully exploit the potential in contributions to local economies, for instance advanced robotics technologies with increased flexibility can play a key role in making local manufacturing and production competitive again, while also contributing to a greener economy, with the potential to re-shore some industries (e.g. food supply). The health and monitoring domains also show great potential at regional level, since these cannot be delocalised.

Manufacturing: The economically driven concentration processes in terms of size and localisation in today's manufacturing industries have led to regional concentrations of actors along value chains in a smaller number of lead regions in Europe. Less developed regions have little opportunity to participate in value creation. ICT allows the creation of 'virtual' value chains regardless of the geographical location of its actors which allow the potential of skilled labour forces in other regions to be exploited, thereby making those regions participate in value creation, often at lower cost. To achieve this, a Smart Specialisation Strategy is key: the aim is to identify and strengthen the competitive advantages of EU regions in terms of skills, R&D capability, industrial output and infrastructures and to link up R&D&I strategies at regional, national and European levels while offering incentives for growth and differentiation. The aim is to leverage the available resources through a European programme and to counter Europe's de-industrialisation.

Useful resources Useful resources

Thematic fiche


Fiches on specific KETs

Microelectronics and embedded systems




Further reading

Commission sets out path to digitise European industry

Communication on A European Strategy for micro- and nanoelectronic components and systems (COM_2013_298)

The roadmap and the implementation plan for Micro and Nano electronic components and systems.

Communication from the commission on the criteria for the analysis of the compatibility with the internal market of State aid to promote the execution of important projects of common European interest. 

The Vanguard intitiative on Smart Specialsiation and advanced manufacturing.

The Regions of Knowledge project Silicon Europe.