Eurodoc conference & AGM 2009 Banská Bystrica
The Conference and General Assembly of Eurodoc, the European Association for doctoral candidates and young researchers, was held from 26-28 March at the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. It was hosted by Asociácia Doktorandov Slovenska (ADS, Slovak PhD Students’ Association), the Czech organization “Studenska komora rady vysokých škôl” (SK-RVS, student council of the Chamber of HEIs) was involved in the organization.
The conference entitled “Innovation in Europe: From Academia to Practice and Back” focused on issues of intersectoral mobility. The focus of the presentations and discussions was put on the creation of a unified labor market for researchers and on the need for increased investment in research and development. In particular, Europe’s lagging behind in achieving its ambitious Lisbon Strategy has been identified as a stumbling block. The EU Commission will make further efforts to create better conditions for young researchers to improve, e.g. with regard to the issue of social security and the implementation of the “European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”.
Fostering Cooperation Between University and Industry
Presented were case studies of collaborations between the academic and private sectors, from which, ideally, both will benefit. At Lancaster University (UK) postgraduate students have the option to spend one year in a company, or even to establish their own businesses. At the University of Žilina (SK), there is a “Science and Technology Park”, which helps start-up companies and encourages good business ideas of students and doctoral candidates. A study of intersectoral cooperation in Flanders showed that the chances of intersectorial mobility are often overlooked due to lack of information. Furthermore, intellectual property rights is an important issue, especially for industry partners.
Success Stories of Intersectorial Mobility
ScanRobot is an automatic book scanner, which the young Treventus company, a spin-off company of the TU Vienna, has developed. A representative of this company presented the company he co-founded and outlined the development history of the idea from the laboratory to the finished product. The development of a sound business plan and securing intellectual property rights (patents), are crucial steps on this way. In addition, it needs a lot of motivation, enthusiasm and teamwork for the successful implementation of such a project.
Lisbon Strategy and Innovation Policy within the EU
Theme of this workshop were current developments in the EU to achieve the Lisbon objectives. The COST program (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) was presented. Trends in the European labor market and the contribution of the regions and the universities were discussed. In summary, it was found that the national commitment is often unsatisfactory, even though investment in research and development results in long-term growth and creates jobs.
The Role of Universities in the Innovation Economy
The mission of the universities in the 21st Century was discussed: should these only foster and administer innovations or act as “players” themselves? How does the protection of innovation combine with the open nature of universities? The diverse needs of society, politics and industry are an additional challenge. Thomas Jørgensen presented the perspective of the European University Association on modernisation of the universities and the reform of doctoral programmes therein.
The “Annual Board Secretariat & Presidential Report” has been approved by the delegates. The treasurer, Jan Holeček, put a lot of intensive effort into getting Eurodoc’s finance of the recent years straight. The finances of Eurodoc are now stable, but there were discussions about the possibility of control by the delegates before the financial report was approved. As a result, from next year on, three auditors will review the finances before the General Assembly. New members or observers were not admitted, as the Board 2008/09 focused on integration of existing member organizations.
The conclusion of the General Assembly was the election of the Board. The composition of the new board is as follows:
- President: Nikola Macharová (SK)
- Vice president: Nadia Koltcheva (BG)
- Secretary: Elena Xeni (CY)
- Treasurer: Darius Köster (FR)
- General Board Members:
- Ing-Marie Ahl (SE)
- Zaza Nadia Lee Hansen (DK)
- Sverre Lundemo (NO)
As a new Secretariat Coordinator Jan Holeček (CZ) was appointed. The Secretariat now comprises of the following workgroup (WG) coordinators: Survey WG: Karoline Holländer (DE); Mobility WG: Enric Rodriguez (ES) and Celine Op de Kamp (NL); WG Gender Equality: Marisa Alonso-Nuñez (ES) , Career Development WG: Nora de Vries (NL). Other secretariat members: Policy officer: Marko Limbek (SI), voting officer: Anna Schiller (AT); branding and marketing manager: Francis Vella (UK).