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Get experience with systems innovation. Sustainability experts are welcome to apply!

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Pioneers into Practice is Europe-wide professional mobility program that provides ingredients for systems innovation through its innovative blend of e-learning, workshops, coaching, group projects and practical, learning-by-doing placements in the field of sustainability.

Pioneers programme is furnishing leaders with the capabilities to understand and think in systems, and with the competencies of agile learning, sense-making and intervention in complex systems dynamics to lead a more rapid transformation toward a net-zero carbon economy. It brings together people from industries, universities, non-profit and public organisations. The program is suitable for a full time employee, as being a career-boost opportunity to strengthen your skills.

This program is for you, when

  • You have higher education related to environment or sustainability OR

  • You have working experience in environmental field for at least 2 years OR

  • You have strong interest in the climate change or sustainability topic.

Application deadline is 1st of June 2020

Operating in over 20 locations across Europe, Pioneers into Practice is EIT Climate-KIC’s professional mobility program for climate change professionals. Selected environmental experts will go through System Innovation Training, prepare a group project about local environmental challenge with tangible outcome and receive a 2000 euros scholarship for a 4-6 week professional internship in another organisation or business in Europe.

Pioneers into Practice Program Timeline 2020

  • 13th February – 1st June – Applications open for Pioneers & Hosts

  • 3rd - 4th of June - interviews with applicants

  • 29th April - 2nd of June – eLearning on Systems Innovation

  • 8th – 12th June – Introductory Workshop on Systems Innovation (vitual)

  • June – July – Placement matching. Choose hosting business/organisation for your 4-6 weeks placement

  • June – November – Group Projects about solving one local environmental issue by implementing systems innovation tools

  • September – mid November – Attending placements for 4-6 weeks

  • 16th – 17th November – Final Workshop and presenting Group Project outcomes (in Pirita, Tallinn)

  • 10th of December – International Workshop and Innovation Festival

Why to apply?

Remember that the best investment is educating yourself!

  • Get new skills and competencies in systems innovation

  • Put theory into practice by solving real sustainability challenges

  • Establish connections in new countries and sectors

What is systems innovation?

Systems innovation entails a completely different approach in the way we define and address problems. Problems are no longer simple or isolated. Instead, they can affect a myriad of stakeholders with different perceptions and interests, are cross-sectoral, long-term, and interconnected with the ecosystem and the societal structures.

Let us explain with an example. If you make a self-driving electric car without changing the system around it, it is unlikely to have widespread appeal, and the potential for huge positive environmental impact would be lost. A car isn't made in a vacuum. It exists within a system which includes:

  • The infrastructure and roads it drives on

  • The fueling stations

  • The loans people may use to buy it

  • The service stations

  • The cultural significance attributed to car ownership etc

That is where systems innovation comes in and the program introduces numerous practical tools to bring innovation that is integrated, long-lasting and brings maximum benefit for the society and our environment.

Systems innovation has some key characteristics in terms of innovation management which sets it apart from more conventional perceptions and/or ways of dealing with innovation. The program aim is to coach next generation climate innovators that every business and organisation needs. Step outside of your comfort zone, educate yourself to bring innovation and get higher results in your future actions!


For more information about the program in Estonia, please contact Kadri Kaarna

Some moments from 2019 Estonian Pioneers into Practice:

What Estonian previous participants of Pioneers into Practice program thought about it?

"It was a broadening experience".

"It was awesome! I met and got to work with like-minded people, had great placement and the work I got to do there and would recommend this program to everyone!"

"My experience in was amazing. Living in another sustainable capital taught me so much. I also learned new things about marketing a company. Meeting others in the workshops was interesting and I also learned new things."

"The experience was definitely one that was worth it for me personally and I will for sure recommend it to friends/ people with interest in climate change and sustainable environment."

"I would recommend to participate in this program, because if this program got your attention, you are the right person to apply and meet the like-minded people. It is a great opportunity to move towards the goals on environmental field which you always have been thinking to achieve. This program could be the trigger for great environmental friendly activities".

"It's an opportunity to easily try something different and spend some time abroad learning exiting new things".

"I had a feeling of being in part of something bigger. It was a motivating project to do something for the Estonian environment. I met interesting people. This experience opened doors to new places and gave me possibility for networking. This is the place to support others with your knowledge".

"A fabulous opportunity to connect with a wonderful community of like-minded people and work in another country on something you care about. Worthwhile at whatever stage of your career you’re at".

"It was an excellent experience and opportunity to learn new things and get out of your comfort zone".

"Extremely recommendable! Gained new experiences. Give a chance to yourself, you will not regret".

"Amazing learning experience that everyone should try to do".

"Interesting way to spend one month with a new organisation for increasing your understanding of climate-change".

For more information visit about the program, please visit:

Pioneers into Practice is funded by EIT Climate-KIC, that is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero-carbon economy. It addressed climate change across four priority themes: urban areas, land use, production systems, and climate metrics and finance. Education is at the heart of these themes to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders. EIT Climate-KIC runs programmes for students, professionals, start-ups and innovators across Europe via centers in major cities, convening a community of the best people and organisations. EIT Climate-KIC is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.

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