Five months after the first online meeting of the enlarged EELISA Governing Board (you can read the statement dated April 19 here), the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) is hosting the first on-site meeting of the EELISA Governing Board. The meeting will be held on October 1, 2021 and will coincide in time and location with the Kick-off meeting of EELISA InnoCore (EELISA INNOvation and COmmon REsearch Strategy) from Sept 30 to Oct 1, 2021.
Alberto Garrido, EELISA Alliance Coordinator and UPM Vice-Rector for Quality and Efficiency, and Asunción Gómez-Pérez, InnoCore Coordinator and UPM Vice‑Rector for Research, Innovation & Doctoral Studies, give us some details regarding these two important milestones in the development of EELISA:
“It is time to take stock of our achievements and discuss the strategy for the following two years”
– Alberto Garrido, EELISA Coordinator.
Q. Can you explain what is the main role of the EELISA Governing Board?
A. The Governing Board is the official and highest decision-making body of the Alliance. It is composed of 14 members including the Rectors, Presidents and Director of the institutions along with representatives of academics and researchers, students, staff, and external counsellors. This Board defines the strategy and adopts key decisions which enable the development and implementation of academic and scientific cooperation programs. These programs will foster the collaboration between students, faculty, staff, and external partners from public institutions, the business sector, and civil society with the ultimate goal of addressing societal challenges.
Q. And what are the main objectives of this first face-to-face meeting?
A. The agenda includes points related to all the relevant goals of the Alliance, including the definition of the EELISA Communities, the Credentials, the EELISA Supplementary Diploma and the EELISA Degree. The Executive Board and the Work Package Leaders are working around the clock to prepare position papers on all these areas that the Governing Board will consider and hopefully agree upon. The meeting will also serve to check the health of the Alliance, take stock of its achievements and discuss the strategy for the following two years.
Q. Why is this Governing Board taking place now?
A. This Governing Board meeting is happening when all EELISA Boards have been appointed, its members have acquainted themselves with one another, Work Package teams are working actively and many formal and informal consensus have already been reached in many areas. It is time now to reach formal agreements upon the fundamental areas of cooperation. The outcomes will enable all our institutions to share a clear definition of the Alliance, its cooperation instruments, and programs with the students, faculty, and staff, while envisioning an increase in the levels of involvement and participation of our students and faculty members in the Alliance’s activities.
Q. From your point of view, what are the key elements to boost students’ participation?
A. EELISA’s mission is to blend academic excellence and societal impact. Thus, it is key to offer our students ample room and opportunities to broaden their training and education beyond their particular academic and professional disciplines. To this extent, our ambition is that, in just a few years, all of our students will be involved in EELISA Communities, collaborating with other fellow students, faculty, and staff from all of the Alliance’s institutions along with external agents. This will enable them to achieve an excellent education background while understanding societal challenges and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Q. And, as EELISA’s Coordinator, which do you think are the main challenges faced by the Alliance in its second year?
A. At this moment, I think the main challenge is to keep the momentum and enthusiasm gathered from day one, and adopt the required consensus to pave the way for the engagement of thousands of students and faculty members. EELISA’s diversity, being an asset and a treasure, includes institutions of different size and approaches, with a centuries-old successful history. The EELISA Governing Board, with all our preparatory work and reflection process, will carefully craft innovative means to ensure that history is broadened and enriched, never compromised or impaired.
Alberto Garrido, EELISA Alliance Coordinator
“We need to go from individual R&I strategies to a shared vision and translate it into a common agenda for EELISA”
— Asunción Gómez Pérez, EELISA InnoCore Coordinator
Q. Could you please summarize the aims of the EELISA InnoCore (INNOvation and COmmon REsearch strategy)?
A. EELISA InnoCore extends and develops EELISA’s strategy for Research and Innovation tackled by EELISA Work Package 5. The main goal of InnoCore consists of creating new spaces for interdisciplinary and international R & I within the EELISA Alliance. We must identify the long-term strategic research areas where researchers from all EELISA partners (including Ph.D Students) can join forces to advance science and technology in order to face societal challenges aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Q. What do you think are the main pillars of the EELISA’s Innovation and Research strategy?
A. The main pillars of EELISA InnoCore are the expertise of our researchers, the research structures they belong to, their R&I digital and physical infrastructure, the MS.C and PhD programs, and the entrepreneurship initiatives. During the next years, our aim is to connect highly specialized research structures with advanced physical and digital infrastructure from all partners thinking on a long-term horizon beyond 2030.
Q. What is the nature of the on-site event taking place in Madrid on September 30th and October 1st, 2021? What are the main objectives being pursued?
A. During the first day, we will work on strategic issues. In particular, we will tackle the identification of the core ingredients of the Research, Doctorate Studies, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan. This will be followed by several sessions aiming to identify long-term strategic research lines, main research structures and PhD programmes as well as to discuss possible synergies, complementarities and future plans. We will also reflect on how the Alliance will commit to the Open Science principles. On October 1, we will focus on operational issues linked to the governance and the deliverables of the project we must submit in the following months, such as the Dissemination and Exploitation Plan, the Gender Equality Plan, the Data Management Plan, and a first version of the Research and Innovation Strategy Plan.
Q. As InnoCore Coordinator, what do you think are the main challenges the project will have to face in the next months?
A. We need to move forward and go from individual Research and Innovation strategies to a shared vision and strategy by setting up a common agenda for the whole Alliance as well as an action plan and research topics beyond 2030. We also need to connect our research fields and researchers to prompt the mobility of our Master’s and Doctoral students and help them set the course for upcoming international calls and funding opportunities.
Q. What aspects of InnoCore do you think will be the most interesting for EELISA students?
A. I think the most appealing element for them is that Master and PhD students will benefit from research-based learning. Students will have the chance to join international research projects that will enable them to work in multinational/multicultural teams, apply scientific methods, develop critical thinking, and use physical and digital infrastructures from all institutions within the Alliance. Thus, they will develop research skills while learning about research results. In a nutshell, this is to learn from practical research works.
Asunción Gómez Pérez, EELISA InnoCore Coordinator