Slovenia Idea Camp
On September 23-24, 2019, 100 students from across Slovenia gathered for a two day Idea Camp in Zreče. Maja Krušič Šega, the Head of Entrepreneurship in Education at the Ministry of Education of Slovenia delivered opening remarks. Rok Brajkovič, a geologist from the Geological Survey of Slovenia and EIT RawMaterials Hub – Regional Center Adria, provided an introductory lecture on the role of raw materials in our everyday lives and the development toward a circular economy. Thereafter, industry partners from Domel d.d., Sij Acroni, and Talum Aluminium presented real challenges they face along the raw materials value chain. During their brainstorming, the students received support from industry mentors as well as expert trainers from Znanost na Cesti (Science on the Street), a science communication initiative of the Department for Nanostructured Materials of the Josef Stefan Institute, a leading research institute in Ljubljana. As they developed their innovative solutions to the challenges, the teams received instruction on developing a business plan, including conducting market research, feasibility and risk assessments as well as marketing.
On day two, EIT RawMaterials recruited a number of dynamic speakers to hold a communication training, facilitated by Znanost na Cesti. Students learned about the power of storytelling to convey solutions to complex problems, and received coaching on effective social media from Matej Proprotnik, a journalist at Slovenia’s national public broadcaster. As the students put the finishing touches on their presentations, Andrej Smuc, the Vice Dean for Science and Research at the University of Ljubljana demonstrated the typical, boring powerpoint presentation, then broke down step by step how to avoid the most common pitfalls and create a compelling pitch. Znanost na Cesti and the lecturers provided individualized coaching to the teams as they prepared their presentations. Following the teams’ presentations, the judges selected the top 4 teams out of 20 – one overall winner and one winner from each industrial challenge. The winning teams innovated: a 100% aluminium alternative to the single use plastic bag; a vacuum cleaner constructed of recycled components and materials that allowed for easy reclamation of materials; a decorative lacquer derived from slag (waste product from steel production); and a toothbrush with a recyclable aluminium stem and decomposable bamboo head.