UL joins Prestigious Partnership of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology

The University of Limerick has been successful in joining the Raw Materials Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), a partnership of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) which is set to deliver over 10,000 jobs to the Europe over the next 7 years.

There are over 100 partners of the Raw Materials KIC, with a budget of over €800 million to invest in new innovations and up to 50 new SMEs in the supply of key materials for the manufacturing and ICT sectors in Europe.  Ireland has three core partners among this prestigious partnership including University of Limerick, Aughinish Alumina, Limerick, and Trinity College Dublin.

A KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is a highly integrated, creative and excellence-driven partnership which brings together the fields of education, technology, research, business and entrepreneurship, in order to produce new innovations and new innovation models that inspire others to emulate it. They are to become key drivers of sustainable economic growth and competitiveness across Europe through world-leading innovation. The KICs will be driving effective “translation” between partners in ideas, technology, culture, and business models, and will create new business for existing industry and for new endeavours.

Professor Noel O’Dowd, Director of the Materials and Surface Science Institute  at UL said: “The inclusion of UL and indeed Ireland in this Innovation Community will allow Irish companies and organisations such as Aughinish Alumina to link into the partner networks, research, demonstration pilots and training programmes for staff. Irish SMEs also stand to benefit from the KIC by getting involved as task partners in future projects, with increased access the European markets and business matchmaking services.

The KIC focuses its activities to increase EU competitiveness in 4 main sectors as follows ICT, Machinery and Equipment, Mobility and Energy. These are of great importance to Ireland in attracting and keeping top ranking ICT companies, aerospace, specialised design and manufacturing niche markets that can benefit from the KIC.  KICs build innovative webs of excellence across the knowledge triangle with the intention of addressing key societal challenges. KICs must address a long-term horizon of 7 to 15 years, but with short-, mid- and long terms objectives that follow the mission of the KIC.

This Raw Materials KIC focuses on the needs of Europe regarding supply of key materials for the manufacturing and ICT sectors. Europe has identified a potential supply risk as key valuable and critical materials are usually imported to Europe. The Partnership aims to reduce the possibility that a shortage of raw materials may undermine EU industry's capacity to produce strategic products for EU society. The development of the EU's high tech manufacturing industry, including eco-technologies, is also at stake.  The KIC will have a clear, positive impact on European industrial competitiveness, with about 30 million EU jobs depending on the availability of raw materials.

UL has been a key player in this space and hosts one of the larger and more integrated Raw Materials European Innovation Partnerships with 35 international partners focused on R&D in the aluminium and alumina processing space. Seewww.BRAVOEIP.eu . Dr. O’Donoghue, Design and Manufacturing Technology Department said these large integrated platforms are hugely important to connecting Irish research, education and innovation to Europe for export, scale-up and development of products, services and well educated employee base.  UL is also a core contributor of the Ifoster platform to assist in the involvement of Irish organisations in EU consortia.

In addition ULs research centres including the Materials and Surface Science Institute will contribute to the KIC research activities in the areas of materials development, composites and process optimisation and  be able to participate in large scale projects and initiatives with the KIC partners.