ENRIITC Virtual Networking Meeting (15 & 16 October 2020)

Industrial Liaison and Contact Officers come together for the first ENRIITC networking meeting

The first ENRIITC networking event was an important step towards the creation of a strategic pan-European network of Industrial Liaison and Contact Officers (ILOs and ICOs). By facilitating mutual learning and best practice exchange, the ENRIITC network will play a pivotal role in enhancing collaboration between ILOs and ICOs, research infrastructures and industry, and increasing the innovation potential of Europe.

LUND – The first networking meeting of the EU-funded project ENRIITC took place virtually on 15-16 October 2020, bringing together more than 120 representatives of research infrastructures, industry, and ILOs which are based in their member states and appointed by national authorities. The participants were from 21 countries from across Europe.

The two-day event was centered around interactive sessions and table discussions which addressed topics that are critical for the growth and effectiveness of the network. The participants also had a unique opportunity to take part in a cultural evening programme that encouraged them to get to know each other in a less formal way. Many of them described the event as enriching and inspiring.

The journey is the reward

When opening the meeting, Ute Gunsenheimer, ENRIITC Project Coordinator and Head of External Relations & EU Projects at the European Spallation Source, emphasized that working with the diverse ENRIITC consortium since January 2020, when the project started, has allowed the partners to experience Europe at its best.

While they come from various scientific and industrial domains, they all share a common goal and are committed to working together to deliver on the ambitious project objectives. When envisioning the years ahead, she reminded that the journey towards a sustainable ENRIITC network is a reward in itself.

A European vision

The keynote talk of the first day was delivered by Johannes Klumpers, Head of Research and Industrial Infrastructures Unit, DG RTD at the European Commission. He emphasized that one core element of the new EU Framework Programme for Research & Innovation, Horizon Europe, is innovation-based growth in Europe.

Klumpers encouraged the participants to explore collaboration opportunities with industry in order to unlock the full innovation potential of research infrastructures. He offered to facilitate a dialogue between ENRIITC and the so-called technology infrastructures, and also invited ENRIITC to become a sounding board for DG RTD’s ideas on how to intensify the use of both research as well as technology infrastructures by industry.

Insightful survey results and table discussions

A few weeks before the event, the ENRIITC project surveyed Industrial Liaison and Contact Officers to map key elements needed to enact a collaborative framework that would facilitate their interaction. Ilaria Nardello, Research Associate at SZN and Leader of ENRIITC Work Package 2, presented the early survey results to the audience.

According to the survey results, the main obstacles to achieving stronger relations between industry and research infrastructures is the lack of a clear strategy for industrial engagement. This also implies the need to understand the market, appreciate commercialisation issues, improve communication, and resolve formal challenges with tenders. Nardello’s Work Package is further analysing the results. In the meantime, you can read a quick overview here.

After her talk, participants broke out into six parallel sessions to discuss at 13 virtual tables how to overcome joint innovation barriers, communicate effectively, organise trainings for industry etc. An interactive tool was used to collect feedback on 79 questions which resulted in 1454 responses. Reports from the table discussions were presented during the second day of the event to stimulate a brainstorming on the next steps that the ENRIITC network would like to take. A summary of key points is available here.

A “Taste of Granada”

The first ENRIITC networking meeting was originally planned as a part of the Big Science Business Forum (BSBF), which was supposed to take place in Granada in October. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BSBF was postponed to 2021. However, the ENRIITC organisers decided to proceed with the event this year.

In order to evoke the atmosphere of Granada, the project coordinators organised a cultural night with a live Spanish cooking tutorial under the expert guidance of Ian Rutter, Co-founder of Granada Concierge, Cultural and Creative Holidays. The activity was followed by a simulation of a conference dinner albeit only virtually.

To help create a truly Andalusian atmosphere, all attendees received a box of tapas to enjoy during the conference dinner. By connecting the virtual and the physical worlds, the hybrid evening programme quickly became a hit. 75 participants joined the conference dinner and some of them even brought their families along. Many were inspired to try out the recipe from the tutorial. To see posts about the event on Twitter, check hashtag #ENRIITCyourNetwork.

Presentations from the meeting:

13:00 – 15:00 CEST (Session 1)

“RI-Industry Collaboration incl. Table Discussions”