ESEE Dialogue Conferences strengthening the innovation capacity of the ESEE region

EIT RawMaterials – Regional Center Leoben led by Montanuniversität Leoben, has established a vast network of East and South-East Europe (ESEE) raw materials stakeholders that contribute to the sustainable development of the raw materials sector. The key success is the ESEE Dialogue conferences that allow to reach out and engage with the ESEE region successfully.

As a result, the Regional Center Leoben is well established in Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Greece and has worked with most ESEE countries. The success is visible through the high number of developed within the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) and other projects supported by EIT RawMaterials that include ESEE partners. Often participants of the ESEE Dialogue Conferences not only discovered EIT RawMaterials and the benefits of the Innovation Community, but they also connected with the community instantly. As a next step, stakeholders are invited to join the Calls for Innovation Projects. In this way, the Regional Center Leoben has achieved the development and collaboration in research, capacity building, business development as well as education, creating a vital impact on the ESEE raw materials community.

ESEE Dialogue Conferences create a valuable link between the ESEE region and the rest of Europe

Raw materials are vital for future technologies and will continue to play a major role in the development of solutions for present challenges, including the transition to circular economy and green energy. Due to the ESEE region’s unique geological potential and unique potential on secondary raw materials, the region is highly relevant in the context of a sustainable development for the future of Europe. Furthermore, there is considerable innovation capacity necessary for the development of the sector in this region. Therefore, the EIT RawMaterials – Regional Center Leoben is dedicated to reaching out to the ESEE region and has developed ESEE Dialogue conferences.

Through the efforts of the regional center, people in the ESEE region are linked to European initiatives and valued project partners. The team has helped to improve internationalisation efforts and the geographic scope of the EIT RawMaterials Innovation Community by establishing fruitful cooperation. The Regional Center Leoben has created a valuable link between the ESEE region and the rest of Europe. This can be seen as a contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 9, 12, and 17. Through the activities of the Regional Center Leoben, the team increases international partnerships and promotes industry innovation to reach sustainable and responsible production. Citizens and society at substantial benefit from ESEE Dialogue conferences via matchmaking and networking, as well as the results of innovation and education projects. Together with stakeholders from the ESEE region, the Regional Center Leoben works to create a sustainable raw materials sector and educate students to lead the industry into a promising future successfully.

We have been active to start and elaborate a raw materials dialogue with the ESEE region, and we can see the reward on multiple levels. Not only have we fostered innovation by networking, but also by widening the geographical scope of EIT RawMaterials. Apart from successful networking, matchmaking and project ideation resulting in successful projects on the European and the local level, we have had a lasting impact on the region and most importantly on its people. We have proactively shaped and worked together with the region’s partners to develop education and tackle brain drain. We have set out to build capacity with partners from East and South-East Europe. Our role in the EIT RawMaterials has united the raw materials sector into a strong European network.

Anna Meyer, Research and Project Manager at EIT RawMaterials – Regional Center Leoben

ESEE Dialogue Conferences as a tool to initiate outreach in the ESEE region was developed and premiered in 2014. Until 2016 the conferences were funded by Montanuniversität Leoben. Afterwards, funding was provided by EIT RawMaterials. It is the support of the EIT RawMaterials that makes a difference and ensures that the activities are met with success. Strong partnership with EIT RawMaterials allowed the regional center to expand the network through ESEE Dialogue Conferences successfully.

The ESEE Dialogue Conference in Bosnia has had a deep impact and initiated present activities which will be realised in a project. Special focus was put on students who attended the conference with the aim and target to get to know this organisation. Other participants were employees of Tuzla University and a discussion about a possible joint scientific research project was induced at the conference. Industry participated and was interested in developing our ideas to re-use secondary raw materials.

Toni Nikolic, Assistant Professor at Federal Geological Survey, Sarajevo and Elvir Babajić, Assistant Professor at Tuzla University

A series of networking events has reunited the ESEE raw materials community.

Sibila Borojevic Sostaric, Associated Professor and Vice Dean at University of Zagreb

EIT RawMaterials – Regional Center Leoben will continue to organise ESEE Dialogue Conferences in the Balkans to provide a platform for much-needed discussions on raw materials in Europe. Over the last year, the team has continuously developed and refined the conference. With eleven successful conferences in the region, the team is looking for new ways to broaden the impact and scope of the event. Therefore, we are planning to collaborate with other conferences targeting the raw material sector. The legacy of the ESEE Dialogue Conferences also lies in the many projects that were co-created and initiated at the conferences as well as within the EIT RawMaterials network in the ESEE region. In the future, the regional center will sustain the network we have established. At this moment, it is essential to address the issues and needs of the ESEE region, many of which are shared among different sectors. Therefore, the Regional Center Leoben will reach out to them and will boost new solutions for sustainable resource use in Europe.