November 29, 2023Read more
Today, the University of Primorska and its partners marked an important milestone and celebrated the successful completion of the largest European research and innovation project in Slovenia. Representatives from the European Commission attended the event, where the main project results and the future plans of the InnoRenew CoE, were presented.
At the end of 2016, the University of Primorska, together with other project partners, successfully applied for a project to establish a new research institute, InnoRenew CoE, for research and innovation in the field of renewable materials and healthy built environment. The project was the only one from Slovenia to be selected for funding among 169 international projects.
The InnoRenew CoE was established following the above-mentioned successful submission of a project proposal to the Teaming call under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, led by the University of Primorska, with the advanced international partner from Germany – Fraunhofer WKI. It was officially established on 15 February 2017 and has been continuously growing and developing its activities since then, with the support and cooperation of all project partners and other relevant stakeholders.
“Over the years we have successfully built a research institute and today we are gathered here in our new building to celebrate a key milestone – the completion of the largest European research and innovation project in Slovenia,” said Dr. Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE director. She added: “The completion of the project does not mean that our work is over, but it directs us towards a new chapter in which we will continue to pursue our ambitions and research agenda. I am confident that we will continue to be as successful in this endeavour as we have been so far. Our excellent researchers, with their interdisciplinary skills and broad, international cultural background, and the rest of our staff are and will be the most important cornerstone of this success.”
Of the 51 researchers currently employed, 47% are foreign researchers who have moved to Slovenia. Additionally, the InnoRenew CoE obtained 169 new projects and implemented them in the period from 2017 to 2022, with a total value of €11.59 million, of which by far the largest amount of funding has been obtained from EU programmes (21 projects, €9,248,662.91), including the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) ARCHI-SKIN project (ERC Consolidator Grant 2021). Surprisingly, they were relatively less successful in obtaining national funding from the Agency for Research and Innovation (ARIS) (16 research projects, €2,043,449.35, and 22 bilateral research projects, €66,110.00) and several ministries (11 projects, €91,371.03). It is very encouraging to note that 102 projects (over €1.5 million) have been awarded for research projects from industry, both in Slovenia and abroad. All these successes, and especially the successes in cooperation with industry, are made possible by the advanced research equipment installed in the institute’s building. The largest wooden building in Slovenia and an example of good practice in sustainable construction, it is the result of the institute’s own research and engineering work and illustrates the principles of restorative environmental and ergonomic design (REED), which is being developed at the InnoRenew CoE, and thus also takes into account the principles of the New European Bauhaus and sustainable built environment.
“As the lead partner of the project and one of the four founders of the InnoRenew CoE, we have been happy to support the development of the institute at every step of the way and from the very beginning. We are extremely proud to be part of this successful project,” said Dr. Klavdija Kutnar, University of Primorska’s rector, who is also convinced that the achievements of the project make an important contribution to the development of the research, academic and educational field in Slovenia.
Dr. Bohumil Kasal, director of Fraunhofer WKI is pleased that they had the opportunity to work in this project: “The Fraunhofer WKI had the opportunity to work with a team of young and dynamic researchers and staff and helped to transfer the best practices while respecting the specific Slovenian environment. I am pleased to see that the InnoRenew is able to stand on its own and is well positioned to address future challenges. It has been a rewarding experience.”
InnoRenew CoE researchers have contributed to the latter by publishing over 560 scientific papers in scientific journals, half of them in collaboration with international experts, numerous scientific and professional monographs, and by organising and/or participating in national and international scientific, professional and popular conferences, roundtables and other events. They are the holders of 6 patent applications and co-authors of 9 patent applications. They are aware that international involvement and the development of excellent new researchers are essential for the development of Slovenian science, which is why the InnoRenew CoE has made PhD studies possible for 7 students and currently employs 17 PhD students (one-third of them are from abroad). They are also actively involved in the implementation of lifelong learning (“micro-credentials”) in the framework of the New European Bauhaus Academy Pioneer Hub for Sustainable Built Environments with Renewable Materials (NEBAP Hub) at the University of Primorska.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, together with the European Union was co-financing the InnoRenew project: “The InnoRenew project has certainly changed the research environment in Slovenia and this is just the beginning.”, said Dr. Tomaž Boh, Acting Director-General at the Science Directorate, Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
At the event, the project partners and the founders of the InnoRenew CoE came together to form a wooden circle, symbolically showing that only together, with mutual support and cooperation, we can create great achievements. In addition, researchers from the InnoRenew CoE made trees for the guests out of pine wood, a symbol of wisdom and life.
The event featured a variety of videos, which gave guests the opportunity to learn about the history and major milestones of the InnoRenew project and research institute, its staff and some of its scientific achievements. Guests were able to walk around the building and the research laboratories, where researchers set up demonstration points for research groups and presented some of their research activities.
The event was hosted by Lorella Flego and the Žavbi Brothers provided the musical entertainment.
InnoRenew CoE is thankful to its project partners, the University of Primorska, Fraunhofer WKI, the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, the University of Maribor, the Pulp and Paper Institute, Zavod eOblak, the National Institute of Public Health and the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region.