Newsletter: December 2021
A message from Bernd Schäfer
CEO, Managing Director
Dear Partners and Friends of EIT RawMaterials,
2021 has been a year like no other for the EIT RawMaterials community. We have all had to make continued adaptations to our business operations as well as our working and personal lives as the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted. Nonetheless, we have meanwhile seen a sea change in the profile of the raw materials sector, as more and more members of the policymaking community, downstream industry and the general public recognise the urgent issues relating to raw materials needs and security of supply. Now it’s time to realise and implement the major investments that our sector needs.
At the same time, EIT RawMaterials and the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) have achieved some major milestones. In the field of education, we have continued to train and support talent for the raw materials sector. In the Call for Projects 2022 (KAVA 8), we selected six high-value education projects for funding, continuing with our mission to offer professional training and master’s education on the latest innovations and industry priorities. Some further highlights for me included the launch in March of the EIT’s HEI (Higher Education Institutions) Initiative, a major joint EIT community project to boost innovation capacity in Europe’s universities, led by EIT RawMaterials. And in October, our successful Girls Go Circular cross-KIC project delivered the first Women and Girls in STEM Forum in Brussels, which exceeded expectations in terms of both visibility and attendance.
Activities to support entrepreneurship continued apace, with the Eramet Responsible Mining Challenge joining our growing portfolio of services to bring the most promising start-up innovations to the mining sector. And it was great to see a number of our supported start-ups continuing to grow – like Recycleye, which successfully closed a EUR 4M seed round in September while participating in our RawMaterials Accelerator programme.
Meanwhile, this year EIT RawMaterials has itself taken some major steps towards becoming a financially sustainable, partner-focused service organisation. Our new membership and service model is under development and will be further elaborated in 2022. I am particularly grateful to the partners and to the Executive Board who have provided vital input to help make this transformation a success, and to ensure that our community continues to make an impact for many years to come.
The European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) grew rapidly over 2021, with ever more companies, NGOs, universities, governmental and other organisations joining us in our mission to secure raw materials supply for Europe. In July, we were pleased to take part in the announcement of the new Strategic Partnership between the EU and Ukraine, while welcoming the Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to the ERMA community. September marked the launch of the Alliance’s first Action Plan on Rare Earth Magnets and Motors, which is already gaining attention at the highest levels; at last month’s ERMA first anniversary celebration, it was remarkable to see how far we have come in just one year. Thanks to all the partners who joined us online for the celebration!
Despite the pandemic, our matchmaking and networking activities have continued to connect people and organisations across the raw materials sector. In October, we held our Expert Forum and Brokerage Event 2021, which was a two-day event focusing on our three Lighthouse programmes: responsible sourcing, sustainable materials for future mobility, and circular societies. It was great to hear about all the exciting innovations taking place in these fields! Further back in June, we held the third RawMaterials Summit, which took place online and featured a number of our partners as well as EU Commissioners Thierry Breton and Mariya Gabriel, and Vice President Maroš Šefčovič. Next year’s event will hopefully take place in person in Berlin – see you there from 23-25 May 2022. Connecting matters!
On a final note, I would also like to say that vaccinating matters! I very much hope that 2022 will bring us together as a community much more frequently, as there are many of you whom I have yet to meet, and that an end to the pandemic will make this possible. I wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy and restful holiday season, and all the very best for 2022.
CEO, Managing Director