01 January 2020 → 31 December 2020
European funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Materials recycling and valorisation
    • Materials science and engineering not elsewhere classified
    • Metals recycling and valorisation
    • Metallurgical engineering not elsewhere classified
    • Environmental technologies
    • Resources engineering
    • Sustainable development
management of natural resources sustainable development circular society
Project description

A highly innovative and interdisciplinary approach is essential to create technologies for a modern circular society that closes material loops and minimises waste. It can only be achieved if scientists, engineers and economists have an overarching understanding of the entire materials cycle as well as deep knowledge in their specialised field. The term "T-shaped Professional" has been coined for this approach and educating such professionals is a key goal of the EIT Raw Materials.

SINReM (Sustainable and Innovative Natural Resource Management) is an EIT-labelled interdisciplinary Master of Science programme, in which highly motivated and creative students can become such professionals. The degree is jointly offered by three key players in raw materials innovation and research: Ghent University (Belgium), Uppsala University (Sweden) and TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany). Together with over 15 companies and research institutions, who actively contribute to the curriculum, they aim to educate a new generation of professionals in the raw materials sector. Since 2018, SINReM is part of the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme awarding scholarships to the best student candidates applying under annual selection rounds. In the academic year 2018/19, SINReM attracted the worldwide interest of more than 1600 prospective students, resulting in 530 completed applications and a cohort of 23 carefully selected students from 18 different countries.

However, the SINReM approach has also resulted in a number of challenges, which have been translated into a series of additional objectives for the upcoming years:

Challenge 1: It is clearly evident that there is a lot of entrepreneurial potential within the SINReM group. A survey among the first-year SINReM students has shown that about one third of them aspires to start up their own company after graduation. This entrepreneurial potential should be further nurtured and developed into KIC business creation and support activities.
Proposed solution: An entrepreneurial track will be offered in Uppsala during the second year of the programme. In this track, groups of students will work on the commercialisation of research results from the SINReM consortium or other research groups. This track will facilitate start-ups to be created by students graduating from the SINReM programme with the aim to promote research commercialisation through local European SMEs.

Challenge 2: The ambition to involve students from diverse backgrounds, especially economics, in a science degree programme makes it difficult for some students to keep up with more complex science and engineering aspects. This issue has been identified by both, current students and non-academic partners within the SINReM consortium.
Proposed solution: Science prep-courses will be offered at TU Freiberg prior to the programme and during the first semester. This will allow for an even broader intake and enhance the interdisciplinary nature of SINReM, which is important to develop innovations in the circular economy field.

Challenge 3: SINReM has been proven to be very successful in recruiting excellent non-European students, but attracting European students was much more difficult. However, the idea of a circular economy seems to appeal in particular to the European students. This concept is the central structure of SINReM but may not have been sufficiently visible so far.
Proposed solution: A major will be offered in the second year of the programme, which is focused on circular societies as a whole. Using the city of Ghent as an example, it will integrate all parts of the value chain and all types of stakeholders, such as industry, policy, citizens and academia. Further, the SINReM network will be expanded to areas that are not yet strongly involved with the EIT Raw Materials, in particular in eastern and southern Europe. This will add to the choice of internships and master thesis collaborators for the students. Further, integrating this region into innovation actions will strengthen local economies and facilitate innovative collaboration across Europe.

Through the proposed project we expect that our graduates will have a broader view on all options to make the materials cycles more sustainable. Their mindset will enable them to tackle a wide variety of issues along the raw materials value chain. SINReM will hence create a larger recruitment pool of highly skilled graduates for companies being confronted with raw materials supply risks. Through introductory science courses around raw materials, SINReM will be able to maintain and expand this broad recruitment pool in the future. Finally, SINReM will not only educate raw materials entrepreneurs but give them the unique opportunity to explore their abilities already within the degree programme. These graduates will contribute to the economic success of the circular society concept.