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Social Innovation Research: Four new projects in the Horizon-Europe-Programme at sfs

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What kind of innovations and competences are required to reduce the major industries‘ CO2 emissions? And how can regional ecosystems for social innovation and education be established? TU Dortmund University’s Social Research Centre (sfs) will work on these questions in the frame of four research projects approved by the European Commission.

The objective of the PURESCRAP - Purity Improvement of Scrap Metal project is to increase the use of low-quality scrap grades (post-consumer scrap) by deploying and applying best available technologies to reduce impurities. This is achieved through novel sensor combinations and analysis supported by artificial intelligence. The Social Research Centre (sfs) – as member of the Clean Steel Partnership - will analyse functional requirements of users in terms of skill needs and human-machine interaction and assess the social impact of the technologies developed in PURESCRAP. The project, coordinated by the metals research institute SWERIM in Kista/Sweden, will run for 39 months.

Picture of Dr. Michael Kohlgrüber
Dr. Michael Kohlgrüber

Dr. Michael Kohlgrüber, project lead at sfs, states: “PURESCRAP contributes to the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) of the Clean Steel Partnership. The steel industry is playing a key role for achieving the European Green Deal goals regarding the circular economy as well as the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

ONE4ALL - Agile and Modular Cyber-Physical Technologies Supported by Data-Driven Digital Tools to Reinforce Manufacturing Resilience, a four-year project coordinated by Spanish research institute IDENER, aims to boost manufacturing plants’ transformation, especially SMEs, towards industry 5.0 (I5.0) using advanced technologies such as collaborative robots and an AI-based support system. Trainings for digital upskillings will be implemented to prepare the workforce for this implementation. Dr. Michael Kohlgrüber elaborates on the role of sfs: “We want to find out how the factory of the future can not only be technologically advanced, but also meet the social needs and challenges of sustainable development.”

Picture of Antonius Schröder
Antonius Schröder

BRIDGES 5.0 - Bridging Risks to an Inclusive Digital and Green Future by Enhancing workforce Skills for industry 5.0 follows the goal of an inclusive digital and green future by enhancing workforce skills for Industry 5.0. To achieve this ambition, the project – coordinated by TNO / Netherlands – will quantitatively map how jobs are transforming and what new green and digital jobs are emerging in Industry 4.0, and qualitatively understand Industry 5.0 requirements (human- and socio-centric, sustainable and resilience) for these jobs and company practices. It will also map Industry 5.0 skills and skill gaps, set up corresponding training pathways, and engage industry and related stakeholders through a web platform. Antonius Schröder, project lead at sfs, explains: “In order to achieve the goals set for BRIDGES 5.0, it is important to understand and further develop public-private learning ecosystems on the regional level, a level on which new social practices are required and where industry has to become more engaged.”

Finally, in the project CHESS – Change Hubs for Ecosystemic Social Solutions, a “Social Innovation Action Manual” will be designed and tested in four local contexts in Slovenia, Italy, Lithuania, and Greece. A conceptual approach will be designed, building on previous theoretical and empirical work in research projects such as SI-DRIVE or SIC, to address concrete and locally palpable societal challenges. This will be done through social innovation in which SI actors connect with established innovation ecosystems at local and European level.. TU Dortmund University’s sfs will lead the development of the conceptual framework for social innovation ecosystems and monitor the implementation and outcomes achieved in the four contexts. Dr. Karina Maldonado-Mariscal points out: “This is a great opportunity to take our ecosystems for social innovation approach, which we have theoretically and empirically developed over the past years, and see how it works in practice in very different contexts in Europe.”

Picture of Dr. Karina Maldonado-Mariscal
Dr. Karina Maldonado-Mariscal
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