EIT RawMaterials: Leading Science Founder Urges Innovation Transformation at Universities in Fight Against Climate Change
A leading innovator in science has urged European universities and higher education institutions to revolutionise their innovation activities to effectively tackle climate change. Dr. Riam Kanso, founder and CEO of Conception X, will be the keynote speaker at the INNOVEIT Stockholm: Innovation in Higher Education on 15 September. The event is coordinated and led by EIT RawMaterials, the world’s largest consortium on raw materials, funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.
Reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 means new innovations in technology and energy are urgently needed. These innovations will largely stem from universities and higher education institutions. The EIT Higher Education Institutions Initiative (EIT HEI) funds and supports higher education institutions in growing their research and development faculties and boosting entrepreneurship activities and synergies with industry players, many with the aim of accelerating deep tech and energy innovations coming to market (start-ups and spin-offs).
The EIT HEI Initiative is titled ‘Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education’ and is a unique model that brings together industry/businesses with researchers and higher education. The initiative is a key objective for the EIT as part of the EIT’s new seven-year strategy for 2021-2027. The programme supports higher education institutions with expertise and coaching, access to the EIT innovation ecosystem, and funding to boost the capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship activities at European higher education institutions.
Dr. Kanso: Urgent Progress Needed for Innovation in Higher Education
Dr. Kanso’s company, Conception X, has a complementary mission to the EIT HEI Initiative. Conception X is an independent, non-profit that works closely with more than 30 universities across the UK to discover and train aspiring PhD founders from leading research labs, helping them become eligible for innovation grants, awards, and venture capital funding. Through a nine-month deep-tech venture programme, PhD students explore ways to commercialise their research while still at university – much like the EIT-Labelled Masters and PhD programmes.
Dr. Kanso says new models like this are needed to unleash Europe’s potential as a hotspot for meaningful innovation, especially with the continent’s 2050 deadline to reach net-zero emissions fast approaching.
Dr. Kanso said: “Universities and higher education institutions are built to spread knowledge that improves the world. Yet, the current system of spreading this knowledge by publishing papers can sometimes hinder progress – by the time a paper is published, the research could be three years old. We need to create models where research and innovation come together to reinforce and advance each other.”
EIT RawMaterials CEO Bernd Schäfer stressed: “Europe is at an epochal turning point, where the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal are placing more extraordinary demands on higher education than ever before. Our EIT HEI Initiative was established for this reason, to empower higher education institutions to become engines of innovation and foster sustainable growth and jobs. The initiative brings Europe’s education, research, and industry leaders together to work on strengthened innovation in higher education with the aim of solving some of the world’s biggest problems - like climate change.”
Speaking about the EIT HEI Initiative, Dr. Kanso said: “We’re working to promote knowledge and innovation and help great people excel. The more allies we have and the more connected we are, the easier it will be to achieve that. Network initiatives like the EIT HEI are crucial.’’
INNOVEIT: Stockholm - Focus on Innovation in Higher Education
This hybrid event will highlight the ongoing work of the EIT’s HEI Initiative. Discussions will focus on how the EIT HEI Initiative will connect with deep tech innovations and talents and EIT-Labelled education programmes for enhanced innovation capacity building.
All active projects selected for both the EIT HEI’s Cohort 1 (launched in July 2021) and Cohort 2 (launched in July 2022) will be present at the event. There are 23 active Cohort 1 and 26 active Cohort 2 projects in the HEI Initiative network. Cohort 1 projects will share the good practices and methodologies they have learned so far for increasing innovation capacity in European higher education institutions.
Dr. Tamer Abu-Alam is the Project Coordinator of one of EIT HEI Initiative’s funded Cohort 1 projects, CloudEARTHi, and an academic at UiT, the Artic University of Norway.
Dr. Abu-Alam says initiatives like the EIT HEI Initiative, and this event, are crucial because Europe can only be decarbonised if industry, research, and higher education work closely together.
‘’Without this coming together of stakeholders we cannot achieve a solution to the climate crisis. We are all working on the same problem - but from different perspectives. This is why the EIT HEI and the Stockholm event are so important - because everyone is brought together, everyone presents their point of view, and based on this we can innovate and work together to address this challenge.”
The CloudEARTHi project guides students on how to develop their business plan in line with the European Green Deal, and how to use big data to address gaps in their business model. Within just two months, one student has already started his own business to recycle computer components – an activity that will help to provide the EU with specific raw materials necessary for the green transition.
Dr. Tamer Abu-Alam will also take part in the panel discussion ‘EIT HEI Initiative: Innovation capacity building good practices.’
The event is an integral part of the INNOVEIT WEEKS, a series of events showcasing how EIT, Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem, offers unique opportunities to innovators and entrepreneurs, powering solutions to global challenges.
Notes for the Editor
European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
The EIT is an EU body and an integral part of Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The Institute supports dynamic pan-European partnerships, EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities, among leading companies, research labs, and universities. The EIT is Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem bringing together close to 3 000 partners from top business, research and education organisations across Europe in 200+ hubs. More than 3 800 students have graduated from EIT labelled master and doctoral programmes and over 100 000 have participated in EIT Community entrepreneurial trainings.
EIT HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education
The EIT HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education is a joint EIT Community programme led by EIT RawMaterials − one of the EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities. The initiative aims to support higher education institutions with expertise and coaching, access to the EIT innovation ecosystem, and funding, enabling them to develop innovation action plans contextualised to the needs of individual higher education institutions. In July 2021, 23 projects started their activities after the EIT HEI Initiative Pilot Call. By 2027, the EIT HEI Initiative aims to support 550 higher education institutions boosting European innovation in higher education and driving the twin transition towards a more sustainable, digital and competitive Europe.
The objective of EIT RawMaterials is to secure a sustainable raw materials supply by driving innovation, education, and entrepreneurship across European industrial ecosystems. EIT RawMaterials provides a collaborative environment for disruptive and breakthrough innovations by connecting business with academia, research, and investment. It also invests in future generations of innovators for the raw materials sector, through initiatives ranging from the education of school students to higher qualifications for industry professionals.
The company is committed to supporting Europe’s transition towards a circular, green, and digital economy whilst strengthening its global competitiveness and securing employment. On this foundation, EIT RawMaterials has been mandated by the European Commission to lead and manage the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA).
EIT RawMaterials – developing raw materials into a major strength for Europe. Connecting Matters!
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