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EIT RawMaterials Master students on Circular Economy Expedition

EIT RawMaterials RACE 2019

70 Master students went on a two-week, challenge-based learning journey across the raw materials value chain. 

Between 18 and 31 August 2019, 70 Master students from 27 leading European Universities participated in the Raw & Circular Economy Expedition (RACE) 2019 – a two-week, challenge-based learning journey across the raw materials value chain made possible by EIT RawMaterials Academy. RACE is anchored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the RACE 2019 theme was 'Raw Materials for Future Mobility'. 

EIT RawMaterials RACE 2019 

RACE 2019 took place at four Industrial and Municipal Showcase partners collectively representing the full Future Mobility supply chain:

  • Exploration & Mining: Outokumpu in Finland
  • Design & Manufacturing: Audi AG in Germany
  • Use & Start-up Ecosystems: CIC Rotterdam in the Netherlands
  • Closing Loops: Umicore in Belgium

Because EIT RawMaterials and RACE believe diversity is an enabling element for creativity and development of innovative solutions to pressing global challenges, a diverse group of 70 students was selected from approximately 180 applications. The RACE 2019 students represented 27 nationalities, achieved a 50:50 gender ratio, and brought together students with interdisciplinary disciplines including geology, mining engineering, materials sciences, resources management, chemical engineering, industrial ecology and even sustainable tourism and naval engineering.

RACE 2019 incorporated a mix of pedagogic elements to maximise learning, including expert lectures, study tours and group work activities on a start-up solution to be pitched to a RACE Jury. Students received more than 10 lectures from leading experts in industry, academia and policy on topics related digitalisation, mineral economics and business models to societal and regulatory aspects.

At the same time, RACE 2019 students were able to see first-hand the operations of European excellences:

  • Europe’s only chromite mine from Showcase Partner Outokumpu in Kemi, Finland. 
  • Remanufacturing, recycling and disassembly operations at Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany. 
  • Concentration plant and sampling operations at the Umicore Precious Metals refinery in Hoboken, Belgium.

The RACE 2019 Challenges

The seven student teams harnessed their own disciplinary knowledge, but also incorporated knowledge and learning obtained from the 10 expert lectures, three study tours and continuous networking to develop a business solution to the five RACE 2019 Future Mobility Challenges, which were sourced from the Industrial Showcase Partners. Several of the RACE 2019 challenges were broad, enabling student teams to think far outside the box, leveraging their creativity and design solutions which could be disruptive, revolutionary and with a potentially large impact. Other RACE 2019 Challenges were more concrete, closer to case studies and real challenges, with a clearer and more targeted problem definition.

RACE 2019 Challenges covered the entire Future Mobility and raw materials value chain: 

  • Develop solutions to ensure primary raw materials for electric vehicles and energy storage applications. 
  • Proposal to OEMs along the supply chain to increase the number and length of life cycles of batteries or keeping the material in the loop trough remanufacturing, reuse and recycling. 
  • Strategies for municipalities to optimise the use of energy from electric vehicles/batteries (supply) for non-transportation applications requiring energy (demand), particularly at times when electric vehicles are not in use and/or not needed (supply).

On the final day, all seven RACE teams pitched their business solutions and start-up ideas to a RACE Jury comprising Industrial Showcase Partners and EIT RawMaterials Business Development Managers. Pitches were evaluated and the top three pitches were selected and will automatically move to Phase 2 of the EIT RawMaterials business creation vehicle for early-stage idea holders – the EIT Jumpstarter.

The top three pitches were:

  • 1st Place: Chargicle – Making electric vehicles more reliable using second-hand batteries for on-demand, on-site charging. 
  • 2nd Place: e-Fold – Proving e-bikes and service which uses re-purposed batteries. 
  • 3rd Place: AIExplore – Using artificial intelligence to make exploration more cost-efficient.