Brussels, 14 Nov 2002
The European Research 2002 launch conference, the biggest conference ever organised by the Commission, came to a close on 13 November. So, after three days, 8,000 participants and a host of presentations, speeches and events, what were the impressions and conclusions of those taking part in the event?
CORDIS News spoke to several exhibitors and delegates to find out why they had attended the conference, and whether, in their opinions, it had been a success.
Kjell Hansen is from the Norwegian Polar Institute and had an exhibition area at the conference showcasing the institute's large scale facility for Arctic research. Under the previous two framework programmes the facility has received EU status as a major research infrastructure, and the institute is hoping to secure the same status under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Mr Hansen described himself as 'very satisfied' with the way the conference had gone. 'We didn't have to come to the event, but we wanted to be here and it has been a very enjoyable experience,' he said. Another reason behind the institute's presence at the conference was the opportunity it offered to make new contacts and cement existing relationships. When your facility is one of the world's northernmost human settlements, opportunities for face-to-face interaction should not be overlooked.
Building new networks of contacts was the number one priority for the National Contact Points (NCPs) from the Netherlands who attended the conference. Sandra De Wild, NCP for bio health, described it as an excellent opportunity to find contacts among participants and NCPs from other countries. 'The participant forums were particularly good for finding new contacts,' she said, although she described the availability of space in some of the sessions as very limited.
The European Federation of Biotechnology had an exhibition area at the conference to present their work, and in particular, a collaborative project with partners from the EU and China. As Camille Burel explained, the federation already has a wide network of contacts within Europe, but one of their key aims for the event was to assist their Chinese partners in finding new collaborators, which they succeeded in doing.
'We have had a lot of contact and interest,' said Ms Burel 'but mainly at lunchtime when the presentations and events have finished. It has been very busy in our space at times and, as it is quite small, overcrowding was a problem.'
Of the other participants that spoke to CORDIS News, all stated that the conference had been a worthwhile experience. The only criticisms that participants seemed to have concerned the unavailability of space at some of the more popular presentations, and one delegate who was surprised that the post office was closed for lunch. The event organisers will now be hoping that FP6 proves to be as successful as the conference that launched it.
To visit the conference homepage, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/conferences/2002/index_en.html