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BioEnergyTrain Report Summary

Project ID: 656760
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.3.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BioEnergyTrain (BioEnergyTrain)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The development and adoption of renewable and sustainable energy has become a top priority in Europe, and is Horizon 2020’s most prominent theme. Research into new energy methods required to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint is an urgent and critical need, and is reliant upon a flow of newly qualified persons in areas as diverse as renewable energy infrastructure management, new energy materials and methods, and smart buildings and transport.

Bioenergy is a particularly important field in this respect as it is at the cross-roads of several important European policies, from the Strategic Energy Technology Plan Roadmap on Education and Training (SET-Plan) to the European Bio-economy Strategy to European Food Safety and Nutrition Policy. European development in this prioritised field is stalled due to a lack of qualified personnel, a lack of cohesion and integration among stakeholders, and poor linkage between professional training and industry needs.

To address these problems, BioEnergyTrain brings together fifteen partners from six EU countries to create new post-graduate level curricula in key bioenergy disciplines, and a network of tertiary education institutions, research centres, professional associations and industry stakeholders encompassing the whole value chain of bioenergy from field/forest to integration into the sustainable energy systems of buildings, settlements and regions.

The project will foster European cooperation to provide a highly skilled and innovative workforce across the whole bioenergy value chain, closely following the recommendations of the SET-Plan Education Roadmap.
As aligned with the SET-Plan’s needs analysis for European development, BioEnergyTrain has the following objectives:
• To address identified knowledge gaps through common training collaboration and best practices by clearly identifying the technology and knowledge chain for the development and leverage of European expertise. As identified by the SET-Plan there are two areas where expertise on the post-graduate level is urgently needed within the field of bio-economy development: bio-refinery engineers, and bio-resource value chain managers.
• To bridge the gap between industrial innovation and education in order to improve the practical orientation of higher and professional education to enable the market up-take of innovative solutions for SET-Plan measures.
• To create a network of integrated research and industrial infrastructures and develop programmes on the integration of practical training modules at these installations in curricula.
• To create a forum for stakeholders within the bioenergy value chain from research, universities, industry and the public sector to exchange information on educational needs and share knowledge and experience.
• To create a ‘network of networks’, linking HEIs with stakeholders in their regional context, providing information, awareness raising and training opportunities as well as hands-on assistance for implementing bioenergy systems.

The main deliverables will be the two master curricula Biorefinery Engineer (BRE) and Bioresource Value Chain Manager (BVCM). The curricula will be implemented at the two pilot universities University of Twente (NL) (BVCM) and Graz University of Technology (AT) (BRE). The new courses created by the BET partners will have open access through an online e-learning platform.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

1. BioEnergyTrains’ main objective is to develop two new master programmes: Biorefinery Engineer (BRE), led by Technical University of Graz (TU Graz), and Bioresource Value Chain Manager (BVM), led by the University of Twente (UTwente).

One of the tools for developing the curricula were the four Curriculum Development workshops organized in the first reporting period (July 2015 in Lisbon, December 2015 in Brussels, April 2016 in Graz and July 2016 in Lisbon). In these meetings the consortium discussed the curriculum development framework, identified the knowledge gaps, the courses to be developed to close these gaps and the outlines of the courses under development.

At the first CD Team Workshop on July 22, 2015 in Lisbon, the Curriculum and Implementation Framework was discussed. This framework was developed by TU Graz and the UTwente in close cooperation with all other project partners involved in the curriculum development team, which consists of academic teachers as well as industrial experts to ensure that professional needs gaps were met and thematic compatibility was given to the vocational training. The BioEnergyTrain project aims at using all synergies in the development of cutting edge master curricula covering the technological as well as the resource and value chain management aspects of bio-resource utilisation within a joint approach. A number of topics that are essential in the material and energy utilisation of bio-resources will therefore become part of both curricula.

First, the CD team assessed the available courses according to compliance with the educational framework. From this, knowledge gaps have been identified by the curricula development team, including topics at the cutting edge of biorefinery engineering and bioresource value chain manager that have not been transferred from research to education. A list with 20 courses addressing the identified knowledge gaps for BRE and BVCM was developed by the consortium and responsibilities were identified. Of these courses some are compulsory within the BRE and BVM curricula, others will be offered as electives.

During the 2nd CD Workshop in Brussels on 2nd December 2015 KIC presented the results of different surveys on the current and future needs of the bioenergy industry concerning skills of their employees (WP3). The aim was to analyse these needs and identify the skills that could be provided through the curricula by adapting and including new courses/learning materials. In addition, in this CD Workshop all authors of the courses were asked to provide detailed content descriptions, broken down to the level of “nuggets” (i.e. topical course units). The leaders of WP1 (TU Graz) and WP2 (UTwente) provided guidelines for delivering the specific content.

After the 2nd CD workshop the CD framework was finalized, which includes the content framework of the two curricula with the description of modules. It also provided the basic quality standards for the course material to be developed (e.g. general framework for BioEnergyTrain master curricula courses, templates for BioEnergyTrain course descriptions), as well as a detailed division of work within the consortium regarding the topics of the courses to be newly developed. The framework also specified an implementation framework of both BRE curriculum at TU Graz as BVCM curriculum at UTwente, defining the steps to be taken according to the rules for the development of new English master curricula at TU Graz and UTwente.

All syllabi have been established by the lecturers/instructors from HEIs and business. The syllabus presents the outline of the course with detailed content description, broken down to the level of “nuggets” (i.e. topical course units). A first set of lectures and course materials, including presentations and bibliography lists, have been developed by the authors of the courses according to educational and practical relevance standards (Task 5.1) as well as standards for supplying courses via the framework-learning platform (to be developed, Task 3.3).

To have the BRE curriculum implemented in TU Graz, several steps have been taken. On November 9th 2015 the plan to develop the BRE curriculum as an English language master curriculum at TU Graz was presented to the academic senate of TU Graz. The plan was approved by the senate and subsequently the Curricula Commission of the Academic Senate commissioned the Study Commission Process Engineering (curriculum development task force “Chemical and Process Engineering”) to develop the curriculum for the BRE master program, which will be implemented at TU Graz starting with the academic year 2017/18. Following monthly meetings this task force elaborated the BRE master curriculum based on existing lectures and newly developed lectures. In this intensive process, all teachers in the field of chemical and process engineering and neighbouring fields of study (e.g. chemistry, biotechnology, mechanical and electrical engineering) were involved. The Study Commission submitted a draft curriculum based on the modules and content described in DoA of the Grant Agreement to the Curricula Commission of the Academic Senate of TU Graz end of April 2016. On May 13th 2016 this draft version of the BRE master curriculum was discussed in detail in a meeting of the Curriculum Commission of the Academic Senate of TU Graz with the Study Commission. The curricula commission only requested minor changes in the BRE master curriculum, which were implemented in the final draft of the BRE master curriculum which would be re-submitted to the curricula commission at the beginning of October 2016.

In the Netherlands, the accreditation procedure takes is more complicated. It became clear that the new BVM Master Degree program would not be accredited in time, and since UTwente wants to offer a BVM curriculum as a pilot in September 2017, it was decided to develop the BVM master first as specialization within the existing Sustainable Energy Technology (SET) Master Program.

All new courses developed for the curricula in BioEnergyTrain will be disseminated via an e-learning platform. KIC InnoEnergy worked on the development of the concept for the e-learning platform. At the kick-off meeting a first concept draft was proposed by KIC of what the e-learning platform could look like and the functionalities that could be delivered in order to reach the project’s aims. the platform’s concept and what it should deliver has been worked upon and refined. The e-learning platform went under a viability check, and a comprehensive list of functionalities has been developed. In the Curriculum Development workshop on 21 July 2016, KIC presented the 1st version of the platform to the consortium.

2. Second objective of BioEnergyTrain is to bridge the gap between industrial innovation and education in order to improve the practical orientation of higher and professional education to enable the market up-take of innovative solutions for SET-Plan measures.

To bridge the gap between industruial innovation and education, there are two approached. First is to identify the industrial demand in the qualification of employees and to incorporate this into the two new BRE and BVM curricula. Second, approach is to conceptualise, design and develop cooperative educational initiatives, named in BioEnergyTrain as Professional Educational Formats – PEFs, in order to provide students with access to industrial infrastructure, case-based problem-solving, and enrich their academic experience with an interdisciplinary approach.
To harvests inputs from industry for the new curricula, Eco World Styria developed a questionnaire for identifying the industry needs. The Consortium contacted in total 500 industrial stakeholders and informed them about the BioEnergyTrain project and its objectives. The questionnaires have been sent out to industrial partners and personal interviews have been conducted.

The 1st BioEnergyTrain PEF workshop organised by eseia took place in Brussels on 3 December 2015. KIC InnoEnergy gave a presentation on how to integrate industry into cooperative educational formats, how to approach industry and how to create medium to long term collaboration. The concept of three PEFs had been developed and discussed at the first PEF Workshop, including the Student Camp, the Summer School and the Pilot Plant. The Student Camp is an interdisciplinary format that allows students to access industrial infrastructures, get acquainted with the day-to-day working of a business, and get exposure and work in real world problems. The Summer School is a 2-week activity that focuses primarily on bioenergy topics. The Pilot Plant aims at providing students with access to industrial installations and processing plants working in the field of bioengineering, and to understand first hand one of the key dimensions of the bioresource value chain.

The first Student Camp took place at RIC-BRP Powertrain in Gunskirchen, 7-11 March 2016. The camp was focused on LCA and gathered 23 participants from over 13 different countries. The full-week programme included presentations given by the company representatives, lectures given by Prof. Michael Narodoslawsky from TU Graz and Maarten Arentsen from UTwente, all part of the BioEnergyTrain Consortium.

The first International Summer School (ISS) was hosted by LNEG and took place 18 – 29 July in Lisbon, Portugal. The ISS gathered 19 participants from 4 different countries were from academia, commercial companies, associations and governmental bodies. The ISS aimed to cover fundamental aspects of bioresources and to reveal solutions in the quest for innovations in the biorefinery framework converting underexplored biomass into biofuels and chemicals. The two-weeks programme included presentations given by the representatives of LNEG, TU Graz, UTwente, KIC, and also from New University of Lisbon, The Navigator Company, Amarsul, A4F and GPPQ (NCP for H2020 funding).

The first Pilot Plant will take place at the project site :metabolon in October 2016 and is organized by the Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband (BAV). A programme for the Pilot Plant Course has been prepared with the Technical Management of the BAV and in cooperation with TH Köln. The programme includes various experiments at three pilot-scale plants as well as laboratory analysis and evaluation.

3. The third objective of BioEnergyTrain is to create a network of integrated research and industrial infrastructures and develop programmes on the integration of practical training modules at these installations in curricula.

The Consortium identified regional and industrial stakeholders and conducted personal interviews. Industrial stakeholders were invited to take part in the two master curriculum and several possibilities were presented. Besides involvement in the PEFs, the industrial stakeholders were also invited to give guest lectures, to host study visits, to create a framework for master thesis, etc. For example, five students from the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH) are included in regional stakeholder cooperation projects, through an internship, study project or master thesis.
In the Summer School 2016, three companies provided access to their sites for technical visits (The Navigator Company, Amarsul and A4F). :metabolon offered their research infrastructure for implementing the first Pilot Plant in October 2016.
In addition, eseia organized a BioEnergyTrain Conference from 4-6 April in Graz with 100 participants to establish a network with HEI and business. The Conference was organized back to back with a Buying-in event, where external partners where invited to participate in the PEFs and other forms of involvement in the BioEnergyTrain curricula.

4. Fourth BioEnergyTrain objective is to create a forum for stakeholders within the bioenergy value chain from research, universities, industry and the public sector to exchange information on educational needs and share knowledge and experience.
eseia developed a BioEnergyTrain website ( which which provides a general presentation of the project, its research programme and status, as well as the partners involved. It includes a forum for stakeholders to share knowledge and ideas. In addition the BioEnergyTrain Conference and Buying-in event, organized on 4-6 April 2016 in Graz, provided an opportunity for stakeholders for knowledge exchange.

4. Fifth objective is to create a ‘network of networks’, linking HEIs with stakeholders in their regional context, providing information, awareness raising and training opportunities as well as hands-on assistance for implementing bioenergy systems.
The Consortium reached out to the network of regional stakeholders in manifold ways, testing different demand-responsive formats and allowing for an exchange of experiences. The Consortium identified and analysed the regional outreach network, the stakeholders, their interests, their needs in terms of knowledge, competences and training and possibilities for cooperation. For this the industrial and regional questionnaires were developed by Eco World Styria and Energy Agency Styria. eseia with support of the consortium documented the results and created a Regional Outreach Framework, which includes an outline of Higher Education Institutions’ interaction with regional players, detailing content and cooperation structures for outreach activities.

The BioEnergyTrain project involves 9 regions: Styria and Upper Austria in Austria; Federal State Hamburg, Karlsruhe and Bergisches Land in Germany; Lisbon in Portugal, Centru Region in Romania; Zahodna Slovenija in Slovenia; and Overijssel in the Netherlands. Each project region reached out to HEIs and industrial stakeholders either through vocational training cooperation, know-how outreach or awareness outreach. Three PEF workshops (Dec. 2015 in Brussels, April 2016 in Graz and July 2016 in Lisbon) were the core tools for setting up and defining the activities of each project region.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

BioEnergyTrain focuses on the training of qualified personnel in the emerging areas of biorefinery engineering and bioresource value chain management directly impacting the development of bioenergy in the EU. In the Description of Actions (DoA) the impacts of BioEnergyTrain were described as follows:
1. BioEnergyTrain provides skilled professionals to implement the SET-Plan.
2. These two curricula will be integrated fully (or partly as specialisations) by the universities in the consortium.
3. The project links actors for bioenergy education along the value chain and across Europe.
4. BioEnergyTrain help its partners and networks to develop competitively.
5. The project greatly enhances student experience and knowledge to meet rising expectations.

To measure the impact of the project, eseia created a first draft of the BioEnergyTrain Impact Metrics (Annex 27 BioEnrgyTrain Impact Metrics). These include both quantitative metrics, such as number of students trained, number of graduations, number of HEIs and business involved, as well as qualitative metrics, based on interview developed by the Impact Analysis Team, that will start their first activity next reporting period after the first three Professional Education Formats have taken place.

In the first reporting period BET has involved the regional and industrial stakeholders to identify the needs of the region and the industry regarding the two Master’s curricula and the alternative training formats. Questionnaires were customized for use by regional and industrial players. In total, 200 industries and regional organisations were reached. In addition, the partners organised a total of 15 outreach activities, including personnel interviews, external project meetings and workshops.

Preliminary results of the questionnaire show that there is a shortage of qualified personnel in Biochemical Engineering. The outreach activities resulted most of the time in actual involvement of the organisation in BET, such as giving a guest lecture, hosting a study visit, or offer a place for students for their master thesis.

The training impact of BioEnergyTrain as such in the first period was limited due to the fact that the two master curricula will start in October 2017 and the first students will enrol in the second reporting period. However, two Professional Educational Formats have already been implemented as a pilot: one Student Camp and one International Summer School. In total, the PEFs and the Professional Training trained 45 students and professionals.

Student Camp
On 7-11 March 2016 at BRP-Powertrain in Gunskirchen, Austria, 23 students participated in the Student Camp, which linked education with practice (see WP3 task 3.2). The feedback of the students showed that they were very positive on the student camp, with an average score of 9.1 out of 10. According to the students, the camp enhanced their technical and social skills by working in interdisciplinary teams with advice from academic and industrial experts.
International Summer School
The International Summer School took place on 18-29 July 2016 at LNEG in Lisbon, Portugal. In total 19 participants received lectures on the topic of Biorefineries (see WP3 Task 3.2). The participants gave the ISS a score of 12.4 out of 15 and were very positive about the hands-on programme with the industrial site visits and the workshop sessions.
Professional Training
In addition to the implementation of the pilot Professional Education Formats, eseia organised a Professional Training on the Bioeconomy. Three professionals received training to gain a generate understanding of the biobased economy and to elaborate on their won biobased subject supported by experts.

In the second reporting period, the BET Impact Analysis Team will need to focus on forging initial contacts with actors into sustainable partnerships. Dissemination and exploitation as well as communication will need to be stepped up considerably.

Related information

Record Number: 193673 / Last updated on: 2017-01-24