The University

Multi-billion Euro initiative for sustainable use of materials

2014-12-10

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has selected the consortium ‘RawMatTERS’, with more than 100 leading partners in industry, research and academia from 22 European countries, to form a new Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC).

The consortium coordinator professor Jens Gutzmer at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf in Germany expressed delight over the EIT’s decision.

‘This is a unique opportunity for the European raw materials sector. I am confident that all partners will contribute to boost innovation and excellence across Europe’, he says.

The consortium spans across the raw materials sector and is considered the strongest partnership ever built within the sector. Its ambition is to strengthen innovation by introducing new solutions, products and services for sustainable exploitation, extraction, processing, recycling and development of replacement materials. The KIC is also meant to attract young people by developing Master’s and PhD courses in close collaboration between world-class partners from academia, research and industry.

The KIC deals with the flow of materials in a broad sense. The flow of materials in society, from first extraction from nature to recycling and new alternative solutions (cheaper or more environmentally friendly materials) and international trade.

The KIC is potentially relevant for many activities at Uppsala University, including materials research at Ångström Laboratory and geoscientists at the Department of Earth Sciences, but also innovation researchers, legal researchers, social researchers and others will be able to seek support from RawMatTERS for suitable projects.

‘Our sucessful participation in this consortium is important for Uppsala University, and builds upon our world-class expertise in areas such as Earth and Material Science, a strong tradition of innovation, and well-established contacts with industry’, says Roland Roberts, who has coordinated Uppsala’s activities in developing the application.

‘Today, Europe uses about 20 per cent of the Earth’s primary metals, but produces only a small proportion of this material. Modern technology demands many different materials. Mobile phones, for example, contain dozens of different chemical elements, including rare earth elements. Many such metals must be imported, not least from China.’

The KIC will invest in developments of direct economic and social benefit, including new companies and products, and will contribute to more active entrepreneurship in the materials sector, contributing to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable growth. This will enhance Europe’s competitiveness in this important sector, leading to growth of new and existing companies and increased employment.

The head office of the KIC RawMatTERS will be located in Berlin with nodes in six other locations: Luleå, Wroclaw, Espoo, Leuven, Metz and Rome. Uppsala University is attached to the node which will have its administrative unit in Luleå.