Connecting young innovators with industry to collaborate on real raw materials challenges

Master students are often not ready for their first professional work experience after graduation as there is a lack of collaboration between industry and academia. RAIDMAP2 is an education project designed to match students’ fresh ideas with professional expertise. The course approaches existing industrial issues on the circular economy, recyclability and substitution of critical raw materials, contributing to the UN SDGs.

The innovation challenges bring students into a real working environment where they understand the ideation process and develop technological solutions in teamwork. Students learn to shift their perspectives from pure scientific problem solving – typical of an academic approach – into a real industrial context where the needs of different stakeholders are considered. The students experience the positive effect of sustainable-oriented solutions for the industry.

Creating a unique collaborative environment for students to innovate

Supported by EIT RawMaterials, the second edition of the RAIDMAP project offers dedicated workshops on entrepreneurship and soft skills while facing financial feasibility studies, project management, needs analysis and communication. Such issues are not usually part of university courses. Industry and university benefit from the RAIDMAP2 approach, the academia with the creation of innovative teaching and new learning methodologies, the industry with the stream of fresh, unconventional ideas from young innovators.

It’s really motivating to see what students are able to do if they have the chance to become creative and realize their own ideas. We just have to provide the structures!

Beate Brede, Member of Evaluation Board at Fraunhofer Institute

Encouraging students to consider the environmental and societal impact of novel industrial solutions

The RAIDMAP2 education path consists of two parts. First, PhD and Master students, previously trained in soft skills, are divided into groups under the tutorship of professionals from industry and academia to define a project. Second, each group pitches in front of an international evaluation board that shortlists proposals for the final session when the winner is awarded.

It has been a very interesting edition of RAIDMAP2 demonstrating how international and interdisciplinary teams of students can efficiently cooperate with industrial tutors to elaborate very stimulating project ideas in the field of raw materials. Our efforts will be those of supporting the best ideas in view of possible projects, preparing a new and excellent edition of RAIDMAP2 in 2021 and structuring this initiative as a university course.

Franco Bonollo, RAIDMAP2 Project Coordinator at the University of Padua

The original RAIDMAP2 work plan had to be completely redesigned to account for the COVID-19 restrictions. However, the remediation strategy was used as an opportunity to increase impact and test innovative pedagogy. Training activities were fully converted into online training packages extended some training modules to incorporate more learning objectives and interdisciplinary meetings. The local events, which were the core activity of the education path, were completely redesigned and moved from local physical events in which teams with students and industry tutors had to develop project ideas on raw materials online.

A very stimulating experience: working in an international students team, with very qualified industrial tutors, on a key industrial and societal topic!

Simohamed Zine, RAIDMAP2 student

The final teams of the RAIDMAP project impressed me for their ideas and enthusiasm combined with flexibility to remote co-working. Their pitches confirmed that young students do understand the coming challenges and are committed to playing their role for a better future.

Fabio Ferri, Education Manager at EIT RawMaterials