The project will offer a suitable platform and interconnection with SMEs, IT services, and relevant metallurgic and mining enterprises. Develop structures and conditions for staff to create or develop their businesses and start-ups or for innovation-driven research:
All HEIs involved in this project have considered in their self-reflection evaluation to promote better structures/activities to prepare and support actively entrepreneurs and innovators, so the proposed IVAP will be based on increasing awareness of the value of entrepreneurship in innovation ecosystems and stimulating the entrepreneurial intentions of students, graduates and staff to start-up a business or venture and to reclaim additional funding to encourage and support faculties, innovation units, following the final aim to act entrepreneurially in HEI.
To follow this objective innovation driven Talent Labs/environments at HEI will be implemented, with a multidisciplinary focus and the involvement of academic and non-academic staff together with the raw material industry, which will allow working on concrete, topic-related business incubation and start-up projects, to involve different knowledge disciplines.
These Talent/Innovation Labs will be focused on 4 main innovation areas: application of technology 4.0 (smart mining); new techniques and processes capable of improving the recycling and reuse of raw materials; responsible and efficient consumption of raw materials and natural resources and new technologies for efficient work in mining processes. Students and entrepreneurs will be allowed to innovate and work out ideas and businesses based on the needs of the industry.
The project idea processes of the Talent Labs will be supported by the constitution and the development of the projects ‘own “HEI4S3-RM Knowledge Transfer & Innovation Idea Platform” and will stronger the role of the development and establishment of university-driven “R&D Centres” for Sustainable Raw Materials at HEIs. UHU, UNIOVI and LAPIN with strong R&D capacities related to the mining and raw material sector are “key enablers” in mining regions in ES and will foster to build of University-Driven “R&D Centres” to unite research teams related to the supply of the value chain of raw materials, what will lead to creating innovation and knowledge transfer nodes in their regions, the angle point to cooperate with the private sector, SME and other R&D competitive centres.
This will also contribute to joining efforts, building bridges, and knowledge exchange related to other HEIs Innovation platforms and initiatives, like for example it is the “KTH Innovation”, Circular Economy Centre in Lapland, or the Innovation Centre Mektory at TalTech in Estonia.
Develop innovation and entrepreneurial training programs and mentoring schemes for staff and students (WP5 actions): The classical university degree design is typically based on the initial acquisition of theoretical knowledge followed by practical training in the form of exercises or laboratory work.
However, even master students are usually not aware of industrial challenges such as those in means of smart and sustainable transition of the M&M sectors and cannot apply their knowledge.
The theoretical and basic knowledge and research of material sciences, technology, and engineering techniques for mining operations and the supply and production of raw materials are very fostered by the academic staff involved in this project, but often this knowledge is not combined/compared with other disciplines and/or needs its practical implementation into circular economy solutions of industrial challenges, having also in mind environmental, social, cost-efficiency, market-oriented and business factors. This is why the HEI4S3-RM training program will ensure topic-related courses and seminars on R&I skills with broader insights on nearby subjects, such as circular economy, materials’ life cycle analysis, IA and IT technology, prospecting and exploitation technology, etc., but will also include a wide range of subjects related to transversal skills in entrepreneurship and innovation tailored for students, academic and non-academic staff.
Digitizing courses content and implementing webinars and online sessions of the scoped training program will be essential and obligatory, specifically for the first phase of the project, having in mind the COVID-19 pandemic impact, but also will considerably improve the accessibility of the learning material for a wider audience too. Training young professionals for modern industry should include a multiplex approach, combining scientific knowledge with technical and business skills. The proposed training program under this project will also offer students and academic staff Internships/secondments (short) in the raw material and mining industry and site visits, as well as mentoring and guiding PhDs and HEI4S3-RM innovators related to innovation priorities of EIT Raw Material, Digital, Climate, and business incubation.
Mid-and long-term impacts of HEI4S3-RM:
The pathways of the project will be to integrate all the HEI4S3-RM partners of the Knowledge Triangle into mainly all of its activities. So HEIs involved in this project will actively leverage and use the Knowledge Triangle Model as a future enabler, facilitating so the creation of systemic, institutional change in a mid and long-term context. Additionally, the project members through the proposed IVAP actions will contribute to and leverage Smart Specialization Strategies (in line with the S3P Mining Industry, S3P Batteries, and S3P Digitalization), the Regional Innovation Impact Assessment (RIIA) Framework5, as well as align with the goals of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) (RIS Education & Entrepreneurship) or others like RM@SchoolsESEE and Educational activity of EIT Raw Materials and Climate. The project also aligns with EIT’s digital goals, which manages its efforts, structures, and resources on the fragmentation to support digital enterprises and entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on software, but also especially plans to adapt the European education system to the digital reality, to equip people with the right digital skills and to deploy digital technology to support education. All this will significantly strengthen the links between project partners and regional ecosystems, but also will provide additional capacities to cooperate and contribute to objectives of transnational/international initiatives, like for example the ICEI Alliance or the HESS Initiative (JRC), and applying to further EU R&D funding programs. To assure the participation of target groups (students and academic staff) and raise impact in a wider sense of the proposed IVAP and the individual Visions 2030 of HEIs involved, all universities part HEI4S3-RM are binding efforts and will pay special attention to improving and linking existing and future education alliances (especially Erasmus+ European Universities Alliances) to this EIT-HEI action. Also, other capacity-building actions in HEIs in countries in South America and Africa, where the raw material market and mining sector is of global relevance (Polytechnic University Particular de Loja (Ecuador), University of Concepción (Chile), Polytechnic University of Oruro (Bolivia), Faculty of Mining of the National University of Colombia (Colombia), University of Moa (Cuba), Research Institute for Mining – National University San Juan (Argentina)), Polytechnic School of El Litoral (Ecuador) and Senegalese university centre located in Dakar (Senegal) will be linked to this action.