Barroso believes the flagship school, which has a start-up budget of 2 billion euros, will act as 'a pole of attraction for the very best minds, ideas and companies from around the world'.
The EIT plan, which goes before European leaders at an economic summit next month, and proposes a 2009 opening, reflects the Commision's concern with Europe's failure to invest as much in R&D as its competitors.
Barroso wants to create a replica of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, which has close links between academia and business. The idea is welcomed by business pundits such as Bill Gates, who is normally at loggerheads with the EC over Microsoft's alleged abuse of its market position.
The proposal states that the EIT would be a virtual university, with a central adminstration awarding degrees and overseeing funding of research, but with real work being done at existing universities.
A series of knowledge systems would be created to carry out research in specific areas, drawing on academics seconded from existing university departments, laboratories or the private sector, possibly working at a central campus.
Funding would come from the EU budget, member states and the private sector.
By Abi Newman