The Raw and Circular Economy Expedition

Raw materials shape, influence and impact a wide variety of industries, and they are essential to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Raw materials power electric vehicles and are a driving force in the future of transportation.

At RACE 2019,  students followed the raw materials value chain across Europe, from exploration, mining and processing right through to the use phase followed by reuse, remanufacturing and recycling.

EIT RawMaterials is a European initiative that aims to boost innovation in the raw materials sector and position Europe as a global leader in establishing raw materials security of supply.
We aim to build the next generation of technologies and services and ensure that European scientists and engineers have the skills to keep pace with innovation. The RACE is one of EIT RawMaterials’ flagship programmes.

Our RACE 2019 Highlights.

Leg 1: Mining & Exploration

Kemi mine, Finland | Outokumpu
We began our journey by exploring new, sustainable ways to find and extract raw materials from the Earth.

We visited EU’s only chromite mine

From our base in Helsinki, we went far up North to Oulu to visit the mine. It was important to understand how new technologies and improving efficiency can address the volatility of commodities market.
Key learning points in this leg was to introduce participants to mineral supply chain and economics, mineral processing and social aspects linked to the mining industry.
Participants had the great opportunity to go deep in the mine, down to 500m under sea level! Truly a remarkable experience  to learn more about the past and future of the mine. A visit to the concentration plant and to the tailing ponds was also included!

Outside working hours..

Not to mention that RACE is not only about the work! With such a big and diverse group, this gave the chance to meet new people, experience new cultures and backgrounds.  This also gave the opportunity to visit the lovely city of Helsinki and experience the Nordics!

Leg 2: Development & Manufacturing

Ingolstadt, Germany | Audi
The second stop of RACE 2019 brought us to the international headquarters of Audi in Ingolstadt. Audi stands for sporty vehicles, high build quality and progressive design – for “Vorsprung durch Technik.”

Remanufacturing, recycling and disassembly operations at Audi

Along with study tours at the heart of their operations, including the recycling, dismantling and remanufacturing facilities, students learnt about Audi’s strategy to meet its sustainability vision.
Audi is working continually to reduce its environmental impact and conserve resources along the entire value chain. The study tours and lectures within Audi facilities showed participants how they were implementing the principles of circular economy: reduce, reuse and recycle.
The visit also gave participants the chance to meet with Audi employees, having the possibility to ask questions and further develop their research and careers. They also got some valuable insight in regards to their business solutions concerning the RACE challenges.

Outside working hours..

Participants got to experience the real Bavarian culture by going to a Beer Fest! Some Bavarian food was tasted at a barbecue that provided a little break in this intense programme!

Leg 3: Use & Start-ups

Rotterdam, Netherlands | CIC Rotterdam
The next stop focused on the Use Phase: we stopped at an amazing city and investigated new ways to optimise flows of people, goods and energy in urban areas and cities.

Data at the heart of transport innovation

With increasing urbanisation spurring new sustainability challenges, we are seeing the emergence of new business models (such as car sharing) and technological innovations.
Data is the key to transforming our transportation system and accommodating our changing needs in terms of mobility and the sharing economy. Participants learnt about a global approach and European perspective of the transition to e-mobility, clean energy, and circular economy.
Students were also lucky enough to receive a full day entrepreneurship training to help them with delivering the pitches!

Outside working hours..

A full day of exploring Rotterdam,  an amazing sunset dinner at the beach, volley ball included! The rest of the leg also saw an impromptu dance class and provided an excellent base to go visit surrounding cities!

Leg 4: Closing Loops

Hoboken, Belgium | Umicore
 The final stop was at materials technology group Umicore, a global leader in clean mobility materials and recycling. Students discovered how Umicore closes the materials loop in one of the biggest precious metals recycling plants in the world.

Umicore Precious Metals refinery

From rechargeable battery materials for electric cars to automotive catalysts and fuel cells, Umicore is the only company that provides a full offering to support the roadmap of the car industry towards ever cleaner vehicles.
In a fast-moving battery industry, we take innovative approaches and use fresh thinking and creative ideas to deliver longer life, increased energy density and better reliability. By sourcing the cobalt for battery materials in an ethical way and recycling the batteries at the end of their life we close the loop in the most sustainable way.
Learn about battery and recycling technologies and challenge yourself to think about creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges to address climate change: a global transition to e-mobility, clean energy and a circular economy.
The final leg saw the final Pitching Competition!  RACE teams pitched their business solutions and start-up ideas to the jury.  The winning teams selected automatically moved to Phase 2 of the EIT RawMaterials business creation vehicle for early-stage idea holders – the EIT Jumpstarter.

Outside working hours..

At this point of the journey, after having spent two whole weeks together, true friendships and bonds had been created. A celebration was of course the best way to finish this incredible trip and we celebrated with drinks, music, karaoke and a lot of dancing!


Let your creativity run free to help
solve the challenges of tomorrow

Join the RACE 2021 to deepen your understanding of the Circular Economy, pitch solutions to future transportation challenges, gain insight from key industry players and make new friends along the way.

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