Skip to main content

EU2014 Conference on the Empowerment of the Next Generation of Researchers - “Promoting talents, spreading excellence”

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENGRes2014 (EU2014 Conference on the Empowerment of the Next Generation of Researchers - “Promoting talents, spreading excellence”)

Reporting period: 2014-08-01 to 2015-05-31

The aim of the project was to raise awareness of challenges associated with the training of the next generation of researchers and allow the sharing of best practices in the area of research career development that ensure excellent and innovative research training as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers, to better prepare the next generation of researchers for current and future societal challenges.
Organising an international conference under the Italian EU Presidency 2014 on the concept of “Empowerment” of the next generation of researchers, where relevant issues such as training, recruitment and career development have been addressed, have fulfilled this purpose.
The project, comprised by one partner the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), the sole beneficiary, and an associated Third Party, the Autonomous Province of Trento (PAT), started on 1 august 2014.
The conference, bearing the title EU2014 Conference on the Empowerment of the Next Generation of Researchers “Promoting talents, spreading excellence” (ENGRes2014), took place in the city of Trento on 18-19 November 2014, organized by the MIUR in collaboration with the PAT and other local Public Bodies, in particular the University of Trento.
The Conference and associated programmed activities have been included among relevant events of the semester Agenda, in line with the main priorities of the Italian Presidency.
In particular, a focused discussion on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, with specific attention to the relationship between academy and industries, training and career paths, mobility and employability, was considered extremely timely in this period of economical crisis.

Around 250 participants, including 20 speakers and moderators, from the European Commission or representing other policy makers at European, national and regional level, Marie Curie fellows, alumni, universities and other research organisations as well as business leaders gathered to address issues like how a truly open European labour market for researchers can become reality, how talent can be nurtured to grow into excellence, how train and retrain the scientific workforce in dialogue with industry, how it is possible to unlock the full potential of new researchers and achieve the economic and societal goals of Europe 2020.
Approximately one hundred (peak of connections on the opening day) virtual participants joined the conference from remote by connecting to the dedicated video-streaming channel.
The conference hosted the Award Ceremony for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Prizes for 2014. Past and present Marie Curie Fellows have been invited to apply. The prizewinners - decided by an eminent jury - have been awarded in three different categories: Promising Research Talent, Communicating Science, and Nurturing Research Talents. 


The conference has been structured over 1 day and a half and organized as plenary sessions: Welcome and Introductory session, Keynote Addresses, four Workshops, a Panel discussion and a Closing Session aimed at summing up the key discussions with a view to provide a concrete contribution to the on going implementation of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Strategy.
Keynote speeches aimed at updating the participants to the achievements of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and to current status of the ERA and EHEA, as well as with the follow up of the initiative of the European Parliament for a “Maastricht for research”. Then, four plenary sessions addressed the following topics:
- Training and supporting researchers in a changing world;
- Multi-sectoral career paths: promoting and assessing the Professional Development;
- Attractive working and social security conditions in Europe for ANY talented researcher;
- A win-win collaboration between academia and beyond;

The conference programme has been optimised to incorporate
On 1 august 2014 the ENGRes2014 project officially started with duration of 10 months.
In order to properly achieve the proposal objectives and to assure that different tasks are handled in the most effective way, the project has been structured into 4 work packages:
- WP1 assured coordination of the whole project activities to be carried out under WP2, WP3 and WP4 and guaranteed timely report to and consult with the European Commission;
- WP2 coordinated the development of a successful programme and assured that the conference fulfilled the listed objectives;
- WP3 played a key role in raising awareness, guaranteeing an extensive communication effort on the event, throughout the preparation phase and during the event also assuring that speakers and audience responded to proposal objectives, in terms of relevant stakeholders as well as of a broad European coverage. It provided thorough dissemination of the conference’s results and outputs;
- W4 ensured a smooth-running event.

MIUR was responsible for the coordination and completion of the project and has been the leader of all work packages. As the project coordinator and administrator, MIUR has been the sole point of entry for the European Commission, guaranteed backing from the political level, provided an in-depth knowledge of the political climate in the EU, and ensured close coordination between the proposed conference and other activities during the Italian EU presidency.
Nevertheless, to ensure the best possible conference, MIUR has invited PAT to collaborate in the project as a third party.
Other actors, in particular the University of Trento (UniTN) played an important function in the project: the University (a Public University funded by PAT) has hosted the conference and provided administrative personal. The conference took place in the very modern and well- equipped university premise conveniently located in centre of Trento, close to the train station and the main hotels. The conference facilities have been established recently and are fully equipped and up to date with relevant IT and media facilities.
Other public bodies on the territory contributed to the organisation of the event: for instance the graphic arts Institute “Istituto Pavoniano Artigianelli per le arti grafiche” joined with the development of the logo and more in general of the conference’s corporate identity (common graphic solution for posters, leaflets, web site etc.) following the results of a contest launched among the art schools and academia in Trento.

The project’s organization has been structured around a Planning Group comprises by representatives of MIUR and PAT. The Planning Group handled tasks concerning content, format and output of the conference, the contact to speakers as well as other aspects related to the implementation of the event. Ad-hoc sub-working groups have been established by the Planning Group.
In particular, to ensure the highest scientific level of the project, elaborate effectively the format of the conference and the content of the different sessions and identify most appropriated speakers, a sub-group was established for the preparation of the conference programme with the support of an Experts Group appointed by MIUR.

A number of meetings of the Planning Group have been organized. In particular video-conferences meetings with the Experts Group were held on a weekly basis until the conference programme was finalised.

Organizational aspects have been coordinated by the MIUR with crucial logistics support on site by the PAT. Main activities included:
- the set up of procedures for the selection of suppliers and purchasing of goods and services, in particular the travel agency services, including accommodation and transfers for speakers, catering, promotional material, IT services, venues for the conference and for social events
- coordination of the communication strategy for promoting the conference to potential stakeholders. Preferred channel for c
The conference was designed to discuss and reflect on how programmes for researcher training, recruitment and career development empower the next generation of researchers to be successful, regardless of how society and the economy evolve.
Key elements explored from this angle included skills, mobility, and gender, as well as the interaction between academia and industry sectors. The conference focused on the roles of policy-makers, funders and businesses contributing to research training, working together with universities and research institutions.
The aim was to promote common initiatives and share best practices that ensure excellent and innovative research training as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers, the better to prepare the next generation of researchers for current and future societal challenges.

Therefore, its main expected impact was the acquirement of awareness by all stakeholders about the development of a new generation of empowered researchers circulating in Europe, appropriately skilled to favour the creation of a merit-based single labour market of knowledge-research and innovation.
Remarkably, the impact of this conference on all engaged stakeholders has been boosted up by the consecutive Presidency event at the University of Padova (www.interdoc2014.it) with focus on tools, instruments and practices for international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral doctoral training. This event, in fact, with the active participation of the EUA-Council for Doctoral Education, complemented and expanded upon some of the topics of the Trento Conference, enriching the debate with a detailed analysis of case studies of programmes and practices for doctoral research training and how they can be more effective to enhance career opportunities of young researchers and knowledge-exchange opportunities through discipline cross-fertilization and cross-border and cross-sector mobility.

The conference has been designed such that audience, and discussions, were guided through a path that led to the ambitious task of the Panel Discussion: Provide a unified view on what is believed to be most urgent to fully implement the ERA.
In this sense, the concept of “empowered researcher” has been the fil-rouge running through the different sessions for analysing and debating coherently critical issues such as training researchers in a changing world, multi-sectoral career paths, working and social security conditions in Europe, collaboration between academia and beyond.
More in general, the concept of “empowered researcher” has been identified, and proposed, as a synthesis of the objectives of the European policies for higher education and training, mobility, research career development and intersectoral collaboration.

During the conference much was said about ERA priorities, which are all important. Especially, since an open labour market for researchers particularly concerns researchers, the empowerment of the next generation of researchers will clearly benefit from the achievement of the ERA priorities.

With the aim of maximizing the results and the impact of the panel discussion, it was considered mandatory to focus the discussion on what is believed to be most urgent to fully implement the ERA, guiding the discussion by addressing four main questions to panellists:
- with reference to the four career profiles (R1-R4) defined by the ERA Steering Group Human Resources and Mobility (ERA SGHRM) in 2011, do you consider that this framework is applicable to both public and private research systems and do you think that the generalised adoption in Europe of the four profiles can be effective for realising a seamless intersectoral mobility?
- do you think that intersectoral mobility of researchers can be the catalyst for a more effective transfer of technology and competences between academia and the private sector, especially SMEs and also ens
Director General of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture Mr. Xavier at welcome cocktail
press conference
evening at Science Museum MuSe
social Dinner
evening at Science Museum MuSe
welcome/opening session
Italian Minister for Education, University and Research Ms. Stefania Giannini