Raw materials are critically important for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and for achieving the goals set out in COP21 and several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The European Union is strongly committed to implementing this and aims for sustainable development as outlined in the Proposal for a new European Consensus on Development of Our World, our Dignity, our Future.

Metals, minerals and materials are of particular importance in this context. The sustainable management of natural resources and the shift to a green economy tackling climate change are examples for this and have been taken up in the EU’s Raw Materials Initiative. At the same time, Europe is highly dependent on importing raw materials for securing the global competitiveness of its manufacturing industries and to accelerate the transition to a resource efficient, sustainable society.

To meet this challenge, the vision of EIT RawMaterials is to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. The vision is in line with the ambition of the Raw Materials Initiative, the European Circular Economy Package and it supports a systemic change for the raw materials production and consumption with innovation in technologies, education and society.

This vision requires the development of a link between the optimal use of primary and secondary resources complemented by a new generation of skilled people entering industry, universities and research. This development will build on the current strengths of the EU raw materials sector and its leading capabilities and technologies in exploration, mining, processing and metallurgy of raw materials from primary and secondary sources. It will benefit from world-class competence in the design of tools and equipment, smart products and services, end-of-life product management and recycling. Top-notch learning and education is vital to achieve this vision. The strength and complementarity of the EIT RawMaterials consortium will contribute to realising this ambitious vision for Europe, as expressed in our mission statement: The mission of EIT RawMaterials is to enable sustainable competitiveness of the European minerals, metals and materials sector along the value chain by driving innovation, education and entrepreneurship.

To fulfil our mission, three strategic objectives will be addressed: Securing raw materials supply; designing materials solutions; and closing materials loops. The three strategic objectives are complementary and invite the cross-fertilisation of different actors and areas of expertise across the raw materials value chain. Innovative solutions to raw materials challenges emerge where the three strategic objectives interact, but also within each of the strategic objectives themselves.

EIT RawMaterials focuses on metal and mineral raw materials, critical as well as non-critical. Bio-based and polymer materials are covered in view of their substitution potential, and other materials are considered in the context of multi-material product recycling. EIT RawMaterials targets raw-materials intensive markets critical to the green energy and circular economy transition, and with high strategic importance for Europe and a significant potential for job creation and exports to international markets. The material requirements of global markets are complex, and offer opportunities for new innovations and cooperation with other sectors and other initiatives promoted by the EIT such as EIT Digital, Climate KIC and InnoEnergy.

EIT RawMaterials has defined six Knowledge & Innovation Themes across the entire raw materials value chain:

  • Exploration and raw materials resource assessment
  • Mining in challenging environments
  • Increased resource efficiency in mineral and metallurgical processes
  • Recycling and material chain optimisation for End-of-Life products
  • Substitution of critical and toxic materials in products and for optimised performance
  • Design of products and services for the circular economy

Activities 2019

As EIT RawMaterials advance further in its growth phase the focus in 2019 will be to:

  • Support the first Lighthouse Programmes initiated in 2018 and launch one additional Lighthouse
  • Develop and launch new innovation activities strengthening all themes
  • Select and coordinate high-priority programmes and activities as well as continued support of a rich diversity of bottom-up projects proposed by the KIC partners under the RM Academy
  • Continue to optimize the KAVA process, including the tools and mechanisms for proposal submission, evaluation, feedback, and project implementation and review
  • Continue to develop the partnerships and attract relevant new partners, especially industry partners
  • Develop the financial sustainability strategy of the KIC, including developing EIT RawMaterials Service and Revenue streams with the aim of becoming a strong service organisation
  • Increase the level and effectiveness of cooperation with the other KICs
  • Fully develop and implement the KIC’s RIS strategy
  • Revise the KPI and impact assessments and continue efforts towards meeting KPI targets.

Lighthouses are large-scale and long-term coordinated innovation initiatives that address critical and specific raw materials challenges for Europe. They are mission approaches to innovation and education challenges, directly steering KIC activities towards the achievement of its strategic objectives. Through the Lighthouses, the long-term objectives and main KPIs of EIT RawMaterials will thus be achieved more efficiently. Two Lighthouses were initiated in 2018 (Raw Materials and Circular SocietiesLighthouse and Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility Lighthouse), and a third will be implemented in 2019 (Sustainable Discovery and Supply Lighthouse).

The 2018 KAVA call led to a proposal to fund a total of 66 new projects in Education, Upscaling, RIS and Internationalisation, which brings the total portfolio in 2019 to 180 partner driven projects as well as a number of Events, Start-up / SME Boosters and Funding Instruments. The InfoCenter, the information and strategic intelligence platform of EIT RawMaterials launched in 2017, will be strengthened to support the KIC’s strategic planning and execution processes. Most projects are multi-year and it is expected that future years will see a slight decrease in number of projects due to projects becoming larger and projects clustering and merging. The “within-the-year” call introduced for the first time in September 2017 resulted in the reallocation of over 1 million EUR to support Partners’ projects in 2017 and 2018 (as ‘fast-track’ funds to projects approved for 2018). Considering the success of this initiative, it is predicted that it will be implemented again in 2019, subject to the availability of funds.

The Area “Acceleration” covers activities aimed at developing technologies. The Area is composed of two Segments:

  1. “Start up & SME growth booster”;
  2. “Upscaling Projects”.

The start up & SME growth booster segment covers activities aimed at transforming innovative ideas and projects into new business for existing companies (large and small) as well as creating new start-ups and spin-offs. The Upscaling Projects are collaborative projects, aimed at developing emerging technologies into innovative market applications. 29 new Up-scaling projects are added to the portfolio in 2019.

In 2019 the RawMaterials (RM) Academy will consolidate its existing education programmes by establishing a sound balance between two channels of RM Academy activities, (i) centrally-selected and –steered, high-priority programmes and activities as well as (ii) continued support of a rich diversity of bottom-up projects proposed by the KIC partners. Both channels of education programmes and activities will be implemented under the RM Academy.

In 2019 EIT RawMaterials will run 87 bottom-up education projects in total, including 27 new ones. These will be complemented by actions implemented by KIC staff.

Our activities in 2019 will continue to ensure that the different segments of European society are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for innovation in the raw materials sector. For this reason, the RM Academy will address learners along their entire life cycle, from awareness raising of future game changers and the public as well as educating learners in higher education and professionals in industry.

Our strategy for delivering maximum impact in RIS regions is:

  • Engage strong key partners to enable outreach to the local stakeholders
  • Carry out core KIC activities in innovation/upscaling and education with partners in RIS regions
  • Grow KIC participation from non-partners (and potential partners) from RIS regions by securing a strong presence in the RIS countries (HUBS) and by targeted outreach

EIT RawMaterials aims at extending the geographical reach to those countries where we do not yet have partners. This will be achieved by establishing fruitful partnerships and sharing of knowledge, best practices and innovative technologies with the respective ecosystems. In terms of EIT RIS outreach the KIC is prioritizing aligning strategic objectives with smart specializations strategies that support the raw materials agenda. The ability to connect with stakeholders on local level can only be achieved by creating local contact points and through working with groups or partners who are close to these stakeholders. Therefore we will extend Innovation Hub/CLC outreach by establishing local RIS hubs. EIT RawMaterials have established three RIS hubs (Regional Centers) with the intention to open one additional in 2019.

Impact of 2019 Business Plan and medium to long-term perspective

The growth phase of EIT RawMaterials will generate the first impact by developing activities and providing services based on the integration of the Knowledge Triangle. Towards the end of this phase the KIC will have provided the first best available technique (BAT) and a number of start-ups will be established in the sector. A first generation of graduates from EIT-labelled programmes will get their degrees at the end of 2018. The partnership will be enlarged, ideally to include more major industry players in the primary raw materials sector and from demand-side industries such as the automobile industry and its suppliers.

Major expected achievements in the growth phase of EIT RawMaterials supported by the BP 2019:

  • Development of all strategic service and revenue platforms
  • Educational excellence provided through the RM Academy
  • Lighthouse Programmes initiated and fully integrated in thematic programming
  • Innovation funnel implemented and fully operational (RM Accelerator), including funding from private sources
  • Growth of KIC partnership and networking accelerated through increase in the number of industry partners, geographic scope, and implementation of cross-KIC activities
  • Roadmap for sustainability initiated and specific strategies identified

In the time frame of 2019-2020 EIT RawMaterials will contribute to all major output KPIs within the balanced scorecard that guides the performance management process of the KIC. Regarding core KPIs, EIT RawMaterials is aiming for 50-80 new or improved products, processes or services, which are marketed by 10-20 new start-ups and result in part of 120-180 patents of which 5-15 will have been commercialised by the end of 2019. For learning and education we expect that about 300-400 students will participated in our courses and will have graduated by the end of 2019.

EIT RawMaterials will have produced a considerable amount of impact KPIs by the end of 2019. In terms of improving EU’s industrial competitiveness and innovation capacity, the KIC is aiming at having initiated at least 1-3 investment decisions for new production units. This is based on 20-100 million EUR spent by companies in new piloting or demonstration infrastructure, as a result of the more than 20 up-scaling projects that will have been finished by the end of 2019. These projects will also have uncovered 10-30 million EUR of industry savings due to higher material and energy efficiency, which will have an impact on the environmental and social sustainability of the raw materials sector in Europe. EIT RawMaterials is aiming for creating for 500-1.500 new jobs within the EU, emerging from 10-20 start-ups that are created and of which up to five will have become stable SMEs, contributing to safeguarding jobs in the EU.