SETI. SummEr school on critical raw maTerials: Innovation and entrepreneurship

//SETI. SummEr school on critical raw maTerials: Innovation and entrepreneurship
2019-06-24T09:52:09+00:0020 June, 2019|

Fostering skills and talent development

SETI, an education project supported by EIT RawMaterials, demonstrated remarkable success in achieving the goal of innovation in education and enabling skills and talent development, connecting partners from business, research and education (knowledge triangle) and transferring skills to local SMEs.

In 2017, SETI gathered Master students with different technical and cultural background to work in teams on real industrial challenges proposed by local SMEs to create innovative business ideas in an increasingly relevant thematic area, such as the substitution of critical raw materials for the energy transition, resource efficiency and sustainable development. Students learned about the business using a learn-by-doing hands-on approach. They worked in strict deadline framework, including recruitment of peers to form teams, obtaining information within a limited time, searching for market and business data, creating a business proposal with clear objectives and sound cash flow, identifying relevant information to pitch their idea to a company or a potential investor. This is a mind changer for most students that are too much used to given assignments, static classes, slack deadlines and dealing with academics. They dip their toes into a company, with a business view, different language and different rules.

Connecting business, research and education to foster innovative solutions addressing societal challenges

SETI summer school brought together partners from industry, research and higher education to show a different approach to innovation to students. For a business proposal to be successful, the actors need to get technical skills, a business mindset and the possibility, through research, to upscale their technical idea. The education and mentoring in the school are given together by people working actively in the three sectors. As this integration is done using a minimal frontal lecturing followed by a learn-by-doing approach, students can assimilate the ideas and immediately integrate the elements from different sides of the knowledge triangle in their toolbox. This knowledge triangle integration was essential for SETI summer school to foster skills and talent development.

SETI summer school contributed to educating 39 Innovators of the Future. Moreover, eight new business ideas were developed, among which three were selected for a pre-incubation grant offered by the University of Trento and HIT and are going further to a more advanced stage of independent business. The winning teams were invited to join the EIT RawMaterials General Assembly 2017 in Berlin to present their novel ideas and network with the world’s largest innovation community in the raw materials sector.

A female-lead team, proposing an innovative idea that matches energy savings with sustainability and closing the full cycle of the materials was approached by Frenotecnica to discuss its idea and potential collaboration.

The summer school hosted by UNITN and HIT contributed to forming Innovators of the Future. Students now have the ability to transform the gained knowledge into concrete business proposals and to present the pitches to companies or investors, applying their decision making and leadership competencies.

The School has been an interesting experiment to see how the students can innovate, develop and present some new ideas as a team in a very short amount of time. It is interesting for us as lecturers to see that students were able to present and pitch at the end of the course.
Matthew Suchomel, CNRS Chemistry Researcher, University of Bordeaux
I decided to attend SETI Summer School because it was a great opportunity for me to improve my technical knowledge and also to meet the companies and understand their needs, to know better what it means working in a real company. It was like a challenge in the challenge because I worked with people coming from all over the world, with a different background.
Chiara Guglielmi, Master student, University of Trento
I expected a lot of work and lectures about business, but in the end, I got much more. I got a lot of good mentoring from professionals and even the mentoring was not only theoretical but also practical, I learned how to develop an idea and how to make it become real.
Nicholas Di Giovann, Master student, KU Leuven

Strengthening Cross-KIC collaboration

The summer school can also be considered as a cross-collaboration initiative among Innovation Communities. The model of the SETI school is built on the lessons learnt from summer schools successfully organised within the EIT Digital. Furthermore, EIT Climate KIC invited speaker gave a lecture on innovation at the crossing point of Raw Materials, Energy and Climate.

The model of the school is being transformed into a cross-KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) initiative and the possibility of widening the target (from younger students to researchers) to gain diversity, fresh ideas and technical skills is explored to improve the effectiveness in providing feasible solutions in a short time to problems in the whole range of key domains covered by the EIT Innovation Communities.

Fostering innovation and increasing the competitiveness of the EU students and companies on the international market is the long-term impact that SETI school contributes to.

Members of the SETI project consortium:

  • Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy (Lead Partner)
  • Hub Innovazione Trentino S.c.a.r.l. (HIT), Italy
  • Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium
  • Marangoni S.p.A., Italy
  • National Technical University of Athens, Greece
  • Université de Bordeaux, France