22.03.2016

The 1st Exchange of Experience Workshop (EoE) on “How to make the most effective use of Horizon 2020 Preparatory Phase Funding” took place on March 9th, at the National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef), in Amsterdam, and provided a valuable platform for effective, high level interaction and networking among ESFRI projects that are just entering the ESFRI Roadmap, ESFRI Landmarks, the European Commission and ESFRI Members.


With more than 70 participants, the workshop succeeded in facilitating the exchange of experiences and co-ordination activities between ESFRI Projects and selected ESFRI Landmarks, on the one hand, and the European Commission, the ESFRI Working Group on Implementation (IG) and the ESFRI Strategy Working Groups (SWG) on the other hand. The Workshop was held in the framework of the Launch Event of the 2016 Roadmap, and was organized by the “Support to Reinforce ESFRI” project (StR-ESFRI/H2020). 


The ESFRI Roadmap update process, its links with national RI roadmaps and Smart Specialization were key issues presented and discussed. The insights and information offered by the Commission representative on the specifics of the current call for preparatory phase funding for the new ESFRI projects concluded the first part of the Workshop and kicked-off a first round of discussions on what are the main lessons for projects that need to walk into the preparatory phase without having to face the same challenges that previous Roadmap projects had to deal with. 


The Workshop agenda then unfolded in three thematic panels: Governance, Funding and Legal Issues. Discussions pointed to the lessons learnt from older ESFRI projects and landmarks, and mobilized the sharing of experiences and best practices in setting up pan-European RIs. Issues covered ranged from how the first year of a PP should be spent, to what roles should various stakeholders assume in the RI governance scheme, to what legal options are out there for setting-up an RI legal person. Turning to funding issues, the discussion focused on why a new RI should be run like a start-up and what should its Business Plan should look like if it needs to secure a robust sustainability base early on. Although several contrasting experiences and solutions where discussed, there was an overall consensus that the Preparatory Phase of each project is crucial for its development and that there is significant need for organising and further supporting the documentation of existing related knowledge.


Attendants expressed their satisfaction on the information received and the knowledge shared in this workshop and showed high interest in participating in the workshop’s fruitful discussions. Dr. Anne H. Gauthier, Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) stated that she was impressed by the amount of knowledge available: “I totally applaud the idea of sharing information on experiences and best (or worse!) practices. As an ESFRI Emerging Project, this information is most useful for us.”


Recognizing the importance of co-ordination and collaboration in the European scientific community, ESFRI has planed a series of actions and EoE workshops, which expand the available knowledge in the field of RIs based on lessons learnt. The Exchange of Experience Workshop Series emerges as a powerful platform, which enriches the discussion on RIs and produces valuable knowledge for a variety of stakeholders such as policy makers, the scientific community, project operators and governmental bodies. In the following days, further documents summarizing the issues raised and the workshop results will be available via www.esfri.eu. 
The next EoE Workshop, expanding and intensifying the discussions on the issues that have risen during the 1st EoE Workshop, will take place in October 2016, as part of ICRI 2016, in South Africa. 

 

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