EIT RAW MATERIALS ALUMNI
President of EIT RawMaterials Alumni Board
PhD in Sustainable Building Materials
Francisco Simão first encountered the EIT and the KICs at a conference in Burgos (Spain), where a Portuguese teacher introduced him to the knowledge and innovation community that is the EIT. His first application was made after finding a good summer school, and his motivation to belong to Climate KIC was not difficult to understand, since already since his master’s degree, Francisco had worked for sustainability and lectured in that field. This first encounter also
sparked an interest in attending circular economy conferences, which in turn led to extensive online research about the EIT communities, and thus began his long journey in the EIT and the community of this European institute of innovation and technology. “If people knew how many programmes could be funded,” says Francisco, even if it is just for a very basic idea that they just want to test, without the goal of becoming a big company, or even with the knowledge that one day it might fail. Francisco believes that “at least if this idea makes sense and contributes to knowledge it is already very good because we can prove or disprove our concept”, which always brings expertise that may one day help people. Whether it is in the environmental, social, or economic area, Francisco firmly believes that there are pure advantages to be gained from these programmes that are funded by and for all of us within the European Union, as this is how science and innovation happen in European society.
Francisco, who has already founded a few start-ups, began to develop his interest in entrepreneurship during and after his Master’s degree, as it was at this time that he had the opportunity to participate in a traineeship period in a start-up company. This is where he first interacted more directly with the EIT and KICs. Francisco believes that the fact that he began by interning in a start-up company and had the opportunity to see the idea from its creation to its establishment allowed him to understand more about the area and learn very important concepts that have shaped him into the person he is today.
“I think that contributed a lot not only to my cv but also to my knowledge and my predisposition to embrace other projects and to see projects differently - that is to start from scratch and try to transform them.”
He later joined the Climate KICs Journey programme where he formed a summer school based on an idea related to electronic waste processing with some partners. The idea won a prize, which led the group to spend a year in the Netherlands testing this project related to electronic waste, trying to promote the greater collection, recycling, and reuse of this waste, giving it a second life, since, according to Francisco, it’s only waste because we give it that name for what is not useful to us may be useful to someone else. For Francisco, the experience with the EIT can sometimes be a bit overwhelming because it is a gathering of a large knowledge community trying to define strategies altogether, and everyone has their topic becomes sometimes quite overpowering. However, it is this junction of fields and stakeholders, it is this transversality that EIT Alumni manages to bring together with its network of different people that is critical for the European Union and of extreme importance for its development. For Francisco, the EIT Community serves as an open door for diversity and knowledge, it serves people from outside Europe, and within Europe, to begin to make this transfer of knowledge and capture this clear inherent value - “we can all take advantage of this type of community (...) It is a very specialized community, and we can take advantages for the whole society”.
Francisco adds that with this pandemic period we have all seen the importance of social connections both for our daily lives and for our success as individuals and as a team. This community is a team “we are people, we are volunteers who are on the board, representing the board, in my case the raw materials and also the EIT Alumni as representative of the Raw Materials sector”, with this said Francisco leaves the message that in this community one must give a little of himself since the community also gives much back, for instance by facilitating these programs and courses in which Francisco participated during his doctorate, that ended up creating a perfect link between the EIT and his professional and academic career.
Francisco is also Representative of EIT Raw Materials Alumni in the EIT Alumni Board.