Driving and fostering innovation for a sustainable, green and circular future of Europe
EIT RawMaterials empowers women and girls to launch careers in science and innovation. To celebrate the International Women’s Day, EIT RawMaterials asked their colleagues what inspires them to work in the raw materials sector and how they see the sector develop in the future. We invite you to meet Catherine Bounsaythip, Tina Benda, Ligita Baleisyte, Anna Donczew-Salawa!
Catherine Bounsaythip is a Business Development Manager at Innovation Hub Baltic Sea. Catherine works closely with our entrepreneurs on a number of business creation and support activities. Over the past years, a great motivation for Catherine has been seeing start-ups become successful by attracting customers and investors in our sector.
Tina Benda is RIS Manager at Innovation Hub East. In her work, she engages partners from the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) ecosystem to collaborate on projects and initiatives to unlock innovation potential and talent in the region.
Ligita Baleisyte has recently joined the company to work on the Girls Go Circular and Skills for the Future projects that address entrepreneurship and the gender gap in our sector. As a Project Specialist, Education, Ligita motivates students to learn about the circular economy and choose a career path in our sector.
Anna Donczew-Salawa, Master Education & RACE Manager, inspires students to become the innovators of the future. Last year, Anna launched a fully digital and global RACE (Raw & Circular Economy Expedition) for sustainability pioneers keen to deepen their understanding of the pressing, raw material challenges of Future Mobility.
What inspires you working in the raw materials sector?
Catherine Bounsaythip: The raw materials sector encompasses broad technological and business areas that one always finds plenty of work opportunities. The sector appears to many as conservative and traditional, but it is the core enabler of many modern technologies! One needs to understand the complex value chain of raw materials in order to appreciate how tremendous opportunities abound! The raw materials sector is the core enabler of many modern technologies! One needs to understand the complex value chain of raw materials in order to appreciate how tremendous opportunities abound!
Tina Benda: The awareness of the role raw materials play in our daily lives, in our civilisation – and on the other hand knowing that most of society still does not know that what hasn’t been grown has to be mined. I wish to contribute to a more sustainable supply of raw materials, extracted and processed in Europe. This is the best way we ensure they are sustainably produced and the workers in the industry have a safe environment to work in.
Anna Donczew-Salawa: I am excited about finding new ways to secure metals and minerals which are vital for our sustainable future – from exploration, mining to processing and recycling; gaining a holistic view allowed me to interact with the partners from the entire raw materials value chain and to support them in providing sustainable solutions for greener Europe.
What is your observation of young people and entrepreneurs empowered to innovate at the beginning of their careers?
Catherine Bounsaythip: Innovation brings solutions to existing problems or needs. Innovators empowered to innovate in the raw materials sector usually have concrete understanding of the problems: they either have work experience in the sector or during study projects. Innovation stems from understanding the industrial needs or from being troubled by the current situation and willingness to bring change. To help entrepreneurs innovate in our sector, the raw materials industry should make their problems known to the entrepreneurial community. Likewise, entrepreneurs should get involved in the community of raw materials to understand the trends and establish partnerships.
Tina Benda: They really do provide great innovative ideas due to fresh, rested and open minds. Ideas that maybe would not occur to experts with over 30 years of experience. We need fresh minds like this!
Anna Donczew-Salawa: In our Academy-driven activities we put a strong focus on exposing students to entrepreneurial careers and allowing them to innovate (and fail!) for real-life business challenges. It’s rewarding to see students being inspired and motivated to join or create a start-up after participating in our events! I truly believe that investing in entrepreneurship training for young professionals boost our innovation capacity in Europe.
What has been a rewarding moment for you working on education projects?
Ligita Baleisyte: When thinking about the most rewarding moments while working on education projects, such as Girls Go Circular and Skills for the Future, two things immediately pop up in my mind. First is the positive feedback from the participants – students and teachers from different RIS region. When you receive comments from the teachers saying that Circular Learning Space is tremendously helpful and needed in their work, you feel fulfilled and motivated to continue this work and look for different ways to improve it even more.
The second rewarding moment is witnessing how well these projects are received in public. We have people with different backgrounds and experiences reaching out to us and offering to volunteer in these projects and help to spread the word about them to more and more students.
Our Circular Learning Space is tremendously helpful and needed for teachers in Southern and Eastern Europe, helping them to inspire more students and improving their digital and entrepreneurial skills. This really motivates me to continue this work and encourage more teenagers to learn about the circular economy.
What trends do you see become impactful in the future?
Catherine Bounsaythip: The raw materials sector is so broad, so are the needs for new skills, technology and innovation. To be specific, Europe’s needs in the future include: the sustainable supply and use of raw materials; to lower Europe’s dependency on foreign products; to have a healthy environment and combat climate change.
Tina Benda: Open knowledge sharing with wider society and thus gaining Social Licence to Operate (SLO) is the key item for our society to fully accept mining industry, mining in our vicinity and consequently a greener future.
What is your advice to young people considering career and study paths in the sector?
Tina Benda: If not enough reasons above for the young to join the sector, here are two additional ones: People in the sector are very energetic, driven and willing to cooperate and support each other. They are aware of the importance of the sector and thus driven to foster innovations leading towards a greener and more sustainable future for the next generations.