Collaboration is key for closing the skills gap in deep tech for a sustainable Europe

The Deep Tech Talent Initiative’s networking event “Closing the skills gap in deep tech for a sustainable Europe“, organised by the EIT and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council, took place on the 31st of May in a hybrid format, both in the Stockholm historical Posthuset building and online.

The event began with a networking lunch, allowing participants to connect with each other and get settled for the day’s activities. After that, the Master of Ceremony, Anders Hvid, delivered the welcome words and set the tone for the event.

Following that, Pia Sandvik, member of the EIT Governing Board and CEO of Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), welcomed the attendees and provided an introduction, highlighting how “deep tech has the power to drive innovation across economy and society”.

Sara Modig, the State Secretary to the Minister for Energy, Business, and Industry from the Government Offices of Sweden, took the stage to extend this welcome and provide an introduction, focused on how crucial deep tech is, when it comes to tackling the challenges of the most immediate future, in the areas such as health, security, or climate.

Following the introductory speeches, Martin Kern, director of the EIT walked the audience through the nuts and bolts of the Deep Tech Talent Initiative, including the upcoming prizes for current and potential pledgers of the initiative to get additional funding for developing training on deep tech.

The following session was a panel discussion on how to build a talent community to foster deep tech education and upskilling across Europe. The panellists included Salvatore Nigro (JA Europe), Annika Borgenstam (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Darja Isaksson (Swedish Innovation Agency / Vinnova), and Karim Vissandjee (Campus Biotech Digital). The panel was moderated by Martin Kern. One of the key takeaways was the need for a rapid deep tech development in Europe, to make the continent more competitive and able to solve those societal and technological challenges against external markets. In this regard, training new talents and reskilling professionals are the two key elements for Europe to take the lead on its innovation path.

Following the first panel, the audience had the chance to meet the start-up point of view and experience, with a fireside chat featuring deep tech entrepreneurs and founders Riam Kanso (Conception X) and Lech Ignatowicz (Molecular Attraction). The two panellists and the audience discussed about the potential of deep tech education and training in new generation companies, and agreed on the urge for alignment between science and industry to foster an accelerated development in deep tech application, as well as the need for regulatory sandboxes for innovative companies.

After a refreshing networking break, Michał Dżoga, EMEA Region Director of Government Partnerships at Intel Corporation and a pledger of the Deep Tech Talent Initiative, delivered a keynote about how Artificial Intelligence is a key area in deep tech and how it has the potential to change the jobs landscape in Europe. Intel Europe committed to train 100,000 talents in Europe thanks to the Intel Digital Readiness programme, which aims at extending AI education, skilling, upskilling and reskilling.

Coming closer to the end of the day, the second panel discussion was centred on how to unlock the innovation potential in companies through training deep tech talent. The panellists included Minh-Huy Lai (Generation), Michał Dżoga (Intel Corporation), Madeleine Thun (Astra Zeneca), and Jonas Lindberg Nyvang (Stilride). The panel was moderated by Professor Johan Stahre (EIT Manufacturing Supervisory Board Member and Chalmers University Head of Division), representing the Deep Tech Talent Initiative. The panellists came to the conclusion that deep tech needs to reach out to a larger number of people, and there is a need for democratization of the access to deep tech, and, as stated by M. Thun, “bring all relevant stakeholders to the table”.

To wrap up the event, Luca Perego, the Head of Unit – Innovation and EIT at the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, delivered the closing remarks, highlighting the main takeaways of the day, with one of them being the urgency for different sectors and stakeholder groups to collaborate to rapidly adapt to this need for deep tech skills in Europe, in line with the New European Innovation Agenda.

In particular, some of those main takeaways and action points of the event were:

  • Europe needs multi-skilled talents and tailor-made programs for strategic autonomy in deep tech.
  • The importance of building structured collaboration among interconnected target audiences.
  • The urge to foster entrepreneurial culture for the present and future generations.
  • The knowledge triangle is key: education, research and business will cooperate to reduce the skills gap in a faster, more efficient way.
  • Encouraging Ph.D. candidates to go beyond their theses and receive training in intellectual property is one core action to enhance and enrich deep tech talent across Europe.
  • To reduce the skills gap, we should target and train not only the engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs, but also the policy makers and regulation bodies.
  • There is a specific need to address underrepresented groups in deep tech.
  • Europe’s massive effort and resource investment in pushing deep tech development, including the Deep Tech Talent initiative and other related programs to accelerate change.

The event concluded with some networking time, allowing attendees to engage in conversations, build new partnerships and start collaboration to enhance the skills of Europeans, so they are ready to solve the most imminent societal challenges.

If you would like to watch the full sessions, you can access the event recording here. If you are interested in joining the Pledge, you can learn more and express your interest on the Pledge web section.