//VA Erzberg Net-Zero Iron Ore Challenge for Startups, Universities and RTO.

VA Erzberg Net-Zero Iron Ore Challenge for Startups, Universities and RTO.

Innovative Siderite Processing & Carbonate Valorization

Join us to pioneer solutions that valorise low-grade iron ore, gain insights into advanced mining operations, and pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient European steel industry.

Apply to the VA Erzberg Net-Zero Iron Ore Challenge and develop groundbreaking solutions in cooperation with Europe’s largest open-pit iron ore mine!

What is the challenge about?

VA Erzberg, in collaboration with EIT RawMaterials, the largest partner network in the raw materials sector, calls upon innovators and solution providers to pioneer sustainable methods for the future use of carbonate iron ore from Europe’s largest open-pit iron ore mine in Eisenerz, Austria.

Achieving carbon neutrality in the steel industry is essential for meeting global climate goals. We are looking for innovative solutions that support this transition, specifically targeting eco-efficient methods for processing carbonate iron ore and reducing emissions during steel production.

This global challenge signals VA Erzberg’s dedication to pioneering strategic solutions that support the transition of Europe’s steel industry towards a net-zero future.

In regions such as Austria with extensive mineral iron carbonate reserves (FeCO3, siderite ore), the potential for continued utilization of this carbonate ore is critically important. Locally produced resources ensures ore supply, strengthens the local economy and decreases transportation needs and the related emissions. However, the metallurgical use of carbonate ore includes a calcination process, which impacts the steelmakers‘ Scope 3 emissions.

Can you solve either of these three challenges?

Iron Ore Calcination and Reduction

Innovative eco-efficient methods for Erzberg’s iron ore calcination and reduction, improving efficiency and reducing emissions

CO2 Off-Gas Treatment

Advance technologies to capture and utilise CO2 emissions during the processes

Byproduct Valorization

Innovative methods to valorize CO2 and other byproducts from Erzberg in the steel or other industries

What are the benefits of applying?

Receive funding

Paid proof-of-concept for technical feasibility, funding for further research, including sponsored Master's or PhD projects, long-term collaboration

Receive visibility

Showcase your solutions directly to industry experts and gain valuable feedback for developing your solution

Receive coaching

The top three candidates will receive coaching from VA Erzberg’s industry and business experts

Who can apply?

We welcome submissions from these two categories:

Commercial solutions providers

Companies, startups, or SMEs offering solutions demonstrating a high degree of technological maturity, at least Level 5 on the TRL scale.

Early-stage solutions

Universities, RTOs who can provide innovative proof of concept.

How is the selection process?

Participants are invited to register on the application portal with a description of their proposed solution and its potential impact until 29 September 2024. Apply here.

Selected candidates will be invited to pitch their ideas to top industry leaders in an online event on 15 October 2024.

What's in for you?

  • The top three candidates will be invited to present their solutions to VA Erzberg experts in person at the final event in Eisenerz, Austria.
  • Two winners will be selected and announced at the final event in Eisenerz.
  • The winner of the early-stage concept will receive the necessary funding to further their research through avenues such as a paid Master’s or PhD thesis.
  • The winner of the commercial solution will begin a paid proof-of-concept in Eisenerz, with the potential for a long-term partnership.

Key dates

Apply here

Visit our application portal to create your profile, answer the questionnaire, and upload a pitch deck (optional). We are looking forward to receiving your application!


For further questions, please get in touch with the EIT RawMaterials team via email.

About VA Erzberg

VA Erzberg GmbH is headquartered in the Erzberg region of Austria and operates one of Europe’s largest and most significant open-pit iron ore mines. With a history spanning over a millennium, VA Erzberg is a cornerstone of the local economy and the broader European steel industry. The company is committed to sustainability, environmental responsibility, and technological innovation in mining and ore processing, focusing on efficient resource utilisation and minimal environmental impact, while providing high-quality iron ore to its clients. www.vaerzberg.at

About EIT RawMaterials

EIT RawMaterials is the largest and most active raw materials knowledge and innovation network, with 300 partner organizations’ spanning the entire race materials value chain and promoting the circular economy. EIT RawMaterials is mandated to lead the European Raw Materials Alliance, with 750 members and an investment pipeline of 30 projects with an investment potential of €10 billion. EIT RawMaterials is part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and was established in 2015 to advance Europe’s transition into a sustainable economy, with a mission to secure a sustainable raw materials supply for Europe, close materials loops, and design product solutions to ultimately develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe by driving innovation, education, and entrepreneurship. www.eitrawmaterials.eu 

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