The first ECIU University Research Conference was organized at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) on 3-4 October. Conference aimed to move beyond traditional conference structures and embodied a challenge-based approach by providing an interactive forum for discussing common challenges, forging partnerships of societal stakeholders, and contributing to the implementation of shared policies to enhance the resilience of cities and society. It was extraordinary two-day event with over 250 attendees including ECIU University community members, researchers and stakeholders from public and private institutions.
Conference Day 1 started with opening session by Màrius Martinez Muñoz (ECIU President), Assumpció Malgosa Morera (UAB Vice-Rector for Research), Katrin Dircksen (ECIU Secretary General), Xavier Gabarrell Durany (SMART-ER Scientific Director) followed by Stijn Delaure (Policy Officer, European Commission) presentation “Next steps for European universities in research”, where he reviewed main actions on ERA Policy agenda and presented recommendations how to empower higher education institutions.
The unique feature of this conference is challenge-based research model. Therefore thematic sessions around 12 selected challenges were delivered both days (explore challenges in Book of Abstracts for the ECIU University Research Conference).
Many inspiring minds, ideas, deep discussions and perspective solutions were proposed during these challenge sessions.
During the plenary session “SMART-ER Seed Programme”, moderated by Artur Silva (University of Aveiro), implementers from different SMART-ER Seed Programme projects had the opportunity to share their research topics, the implementation process, the outcomes and networks of their ongoing or completed projects.
Conference Day 2 started with Citizen Science community breakfast, led by Fernando Vilariño (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). A little later he also moderated plenary session “SMART-ER Citizen Science pilots lessons learnt”, where processes of co-creation and lessons learnt in three different pilot projects were explained.
Two keynote speakers' presentations attracted a lot of interest at the conference. Stephane Berghmans, Director Research & Innovation European University Association (EUA), gave a presentation “EUA Open Science Agenda 2025”. EUA supports institutions in their path to Open Science. Open Science becomes the new normal, with all aspects of Open Science fully developed, both at policy and implementation level. This was further elaborated by another speaker Karel Luyben, President European Open Science Cloud Association, who addressed the topic “Establishing Open Science as the “new normal””.
Attendees of the conference also had the opportunity to take part in the Open Labs tour, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology tour, Food Technology Pilot Plant & Experimental Farm tour organized by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The purpose of these tours was welcoming ECIU member participants and stakeholders to UAB and sharing singular research infrastructures as well as master and PhD programmes connected with them.
ECIU University Research Conference brought together societal stakeholders to showcase challenge-based research outcomes, share best practices of innovative research approaches, and explore/initiate potential collaborations for common solutions to societal issues. It is expected that this gathering of the ECIU community and the sharing of best practices will become a tradition at ECIU University.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the conference can access the Book of Abstracts for the ECIU University Research Conference.