While some of our SOCRATES fellows were attending the ERES 2017 conference in Santorini, I had an enjoyable time in Tallinn, at the Summer Camp on Circular Economy Entrepreneurship in System-Integrated Metal Processing (CEE SIMP 2017). This event was organized by Tallinn University of Technology and Aalto University as a part of doctoral courses and it was supported by EIT – the large consortium which unites businesses, academic and research institutions from EU countries in finding new, innovative solutions for improvement in the raw materials sector. It gathered 20 PhD students from Estonia, Finland, Poland, Canada, Ireland and Belgium. Besides the Summer Camp, the course contained online lectures on various aspects of circular economy, given by leading professors from across Europe. Next to these inspiring lectures, we developed in small groups a business plan from a case study proposed by an industrial partner.
For my team, composed of four PhD students from different study fields, the task was to assess a solution for integrated smelting of electronic scrap and metal concentrates. In two months time, we had to come up with a sound technical proposal and a business model for start-up to put the solution on market. Obviously, the technical part was not a big issue as all members of our team have some expertise in mining, metallurgy or chemical engineering. But when it comes to talking about money – it is a completely different world.
On the first day of the Summer Camp, we gave a presentation trying to “sell” our products, to show how incredibly good our proposals were – with nice charts and images on slides. Well, it was good for some fancy congress but awfully wrong for an elevator pitch :-).
To foster our pitching skills to a new level, we spent the next day working on it with Gleb Maltsev, a brilliant pitch trainer from Estonia. Although some participants described his methods as “controversial” (to say the least), I firmly believe that, by the end of day, it was very valuable experience. Personally, I learned that, unlike technical presentation, pitch has to be aimed to the hearts of audience – this will make people remember your talk and, if you’re lucky enough, to invest in your idea!
Another challenge was to record the pitch on video. Oh, I have not ever thought it would be so difficult to talk for 3 minutes in front of camera! It took us almost an hour to shoot four agreeable pieces (and I truly hope no one will ever see them 🙂 ). Nevertheless, this opportunity to take a detached view of my performance helped a lot in preparing a talk in front of live audience on the last day of the Summer Camp.
Besides the intensive entrepreneurship skills training, the agenda of the Summer Camp included open lectures by experts in circular economy from industry and public administration. The program was concluded by a lecture on theory of multicultural communication by Prof. Anastassia Zabrodskaja from Tallinn University. And after long study days, we enjoyed a lovely weather outside and, of course, explored amusing places in beautiful Old Town of Tallinn.
I am very thankful to EIT RawMaterials for supporting such events, aimed to the education of so called ‘T-shaped professionals‘, who are not just specialists in their field of expertise, but also innovative entrepreneurs focused on sustainability. If you are interested in circular economy and entrepreneurship in the raw materials sector, here is a short list of interesting events:
- Summer School “Digitizing the Circular Economy”, July 17-20, 2017
- PhD Summer School in Circular Economy, August 28 – September 1, 2017
- International Mining School “Zero waste management”, November 20-25, 2017
- Winter School on Critical Raw Materials, January 14-19, 2018
A full list is available at the EIT RawMaterials website, where you can also find a broad selection of doctoral and masters courses, as well as short-term courses for professionals.