The Cluster and its pivotal role in EU strategy and initiatives for critical and strategic raw materials


European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials

The European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (EIP) is a platform that brings together representatives from industry, public services, academia and non-governmental organizations. Its mission is to provide high-level guidance to the European Commission, Member States and private actors on innovative approaches to raw materials challenges.

The EIP Strategic Implementation Plan sets out specific objectives and targets. Actions to achieve them include research and development, addressing framework policy conditions, disseminating best practices, gathering knowledge and fostering international cooperation.

Through the ICAMCyL Foundation, a member of the EIP, the ISMC Cluster is also aligned with the platform’s policy through the promotion of technologies for the production of primary and secondary raw materials, the search for substitute substances, the building of a knowledge base on EU raw materials, the creation of better framework conditions for raw materials and the establishment of proactive international cooperation with third countries.

EIT Raw Materials

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is an instrument of the European Commission that promotes leadership in innovation and increases the competitiveness of the European Union vis-à-vis the United States, Canada and Japan. The working strategy of this organization is based on the so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities (also known by their acronym in English, KIC), which are public-private consortia made up of research centers or universities and companies. Each Knowledge and Innovation Community consists of a transnational European network of four to six nodes involving organizations from the three areas of the knowledge triangle, education, research and innovation.

EIT Raw Materials addresses sustainable exploration, extraction, processing and recycling (raw materials – sustainable exploration, extraction, processing and recycling). It has the ambitious vision of turning the challenge of raw materials dependence into a strategic strength for Europe. Its mission is to boost the competitiveness, growth and attractiveness of the European raw materials sector through radical innovation and entrepreneurship. This KIC will integrate multiple disciplines, diversity and complementarity along the three sides of the knowledge triangle (business, education and research) and across the entire raw materials value chain.

The ISMC Cluster is part of the EIT Raw Materials and participates in several innovation projects. These projects generate a significant impact on European competitiveness and employment through the introduction of innovative and sustainable products, processes and services and highly qualified professionals that will offer greater economic, environmental and social sustainability to European society. ISMC also participates in education projects aimed at developing innovative curricula applied to business and entrepreneurship education.

Critical Raw Materials

Critical Raw Materials (CRM) are those raw materials that are economically and strategically important to the European economy, but have a high risk associated with their supply. Used in environmental technologies, consumer electronics, healthcare, steel, defense, space exploration and aviation, these materials are not only critical for key industry sectors and future applications, but also for the sustainable functioning of the European economy.

Apart from the high risk associated with their supply, critical raw materials are so important because they are critical to major EU sectors and to a wide range of commercial and government applications: green technology, telecommunications, space exploration, aerial imaging, aviation, medical devices, microelectronics, transportation, defense and other high-tech products and services. As a result, EU industry, the environment and our modern quality of life and way of life depend on access to and use of these critical raw materials.

ISMC members cover a wide range of raw materials, including some essential critical raw materials (CRMs) used in innovative products with high added value, as can be seen in the picture below:

Therefore, access to resources and sustainability are key factors for the EU’s raw material resilience. Ensuring resource security requires action to diversify supply from both primary and secondary sources, reduce dependencies and improve resource efficiency and circularity, including designing products in a sustainable way. This applies to all raw materials, including base metals, industrial minerals, aggregates and bio-based materials, but is even more necessary for raw materials that are critical to the EU.


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