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Achievement of Excellence in Electron Processes for Future Technologies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ELEvaTE (Achievement of Excellence in Electron Processes for Future Technologies)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2019-03-31

ELEvaTE is aimed at advancing the excellence of the Electron and Plasma Physics Laboratory (EPPL) in the Faculty of Mathematics Physics and Informatics (FMPI) of Comenius University (CU) in Bratislava such that it becomes a centre of international excellence and an exemplar for other Slovak higher education institutions. The ELEvaTE Project is providing the overall means to enhance and improve skills of EPPL researchers and CU's support structure in a way that will help to bridge the gap between less successful Slovak researchers and their institution (CU) and their more experienced and more innovative research counterparts from The Open University (OU) and Universitaet Innsbruck (UIBK).

The R&D activities of the EPPL have already achieved acceptance and respect at both national and international level. However, the experience and ability to coordinate and manage international research projects is limited. There is a need to develop the administrative and management support structures in EPPL (and FMPI CU) for successful application for larger projects and for the transfer of the knowledge and best practices to EPPL/FMPI and CU. Such links require different working patterns, knowledge of international IP and commercialization arrangements of research, areas in which the experience of both EPPL and FMPI remains sub optimal. Both strategic needs stress the need for training of EPPL staff not just in fundamental research but also in transferable skills of communication, dissemination, technology transfer, commercialization and IPR.

Project ELEvaTE has fashioned the following objectives corresponding with the specific challenges of the Horizon 2020 Twinning programme:
1. Establishment of partnerships with UIBK and OU resulting in the transfer of expertise in the planning, preparation and delivery of European research projects and academic-industrial programmes, developing common research activities between the partners.
2. Improvement of the access of researchers to high level research events and establishing new ways for dissemination of scientific results across different scientific communities.
3. Transfer of knowledge in the field of project management and administration of the European and commercially focused projects, which should result in the improvement of the overall infrastructure at EPPL and FMPI CU, especially in preparation and training of human potential in this field.
4. Exchange of experience in the field of dissemination of scientific results to broader stakeholders including the general public.
5. Transfer of knowhow, exchange of experience and best practices in the fields of technology transfer and collaboration of academic research with industry including the formation of spin out companies.

At the end of the project, the EPPL will have put in place new codes of practice on technology transfer and academic-industry partnerships and will have revised its management structures to implement and sustain excellent science. The acquired knowledge shall affect internal procedures concerning the improvement of scientific excellence at CU with possible outreach to other higher education institutions and influence involvement of Slovakia in international EU supporting research activities with the innovative implications.
Work on the project already started before the official start on 1st of January 2016. Project ELEvaTE is the first one in Horizon 2020 scheme where CU is the lead coordinator and not just a partner. EPPL had to step up and gather all the necessary intelligence on additional project management procedures and processes, which are usually required.

Two main topic streams have been formed and are further developed:
• Excellent research and science in the field of electron induced processes
• Management and administrative support for the excellent research teams competitive on the EU level

Project ELEvaTE mid-term achievements are in line with 5 ELEvaTE objectives as follows:
1. Establishment of partnerships with OU and UIBK has led to preparation of a H2020 Teaming proposal, sharing of the knowledge about MSCA, COST Actions. Research visitations and trainings help to share the latest research techniques, and led to number of interesting publications and other project proposals.
2. A number of researchers were provided with access to high level research events such as conferences.
3. The transfer of knowledge has raised awareness of amongst CU staff and administration as to the necessary responsibilities and expectations of EU from a coordinating institution. Training workshops led by OU and UIBK were open to the whole CU staff, and attracted members from different departments and faculties.
4. Specialized workshops have been organized to establish channel for further exchange of experience in the field of dissemination of scientific results. Before the ELEvaTE project, EPPL’s focus was mainly on dissemination amongst the research specialists with little focus on general engagement with the public
5. Technology transfer and protection of intellectual property rights at universities are a sensitive topic but one that is crucial for cooperation between academia and industry and for the successful commercialization of any academic research. Exchange of the experience amongst the ELEvaTE partners has led to creation of a new industry liaison strategy for EPPL and a request for changes in the CU’s Centre for technology transfer. Workshops and specialists’ discussions served as the initial catalyst for the creation of the Optimization strategy of the Centre for technology transfer at CU. (This document is waiting for final approval by CU rector).
A number of topics and issues were covered during the reported period. Close cooperation with OU and UIBK have confirmed EPPL’s concerns regarding the necessary changes in working patterns, technology transfer system and the need for a better understanding of the commercialization importance in modern, research and science activities. The ELEvaTE project has already had an immediate impact on the CU institution. The project has already influenced the technology transfer and commercialization understanding at CU and even provided new inputs for more advanced partners at OU and UIBK. CU’s internal policy and rules have been affected.
From the societal point, the ELEvaTE is reshaping the understanding of role of general public in research.
From the economic perspective, the ELEvaTE has organized workshops, meeting, training events, strengthening the skills base of CU research and support staff, which is already affecting involvement of the CU institution in international bids and thus increasing competitiveness of the institution on a global scale and affecting the international recognition.
The commercialization and technology transfer insights from OU and UIBK are providing a vital input for the supportive structures inside of CU, which will foster the creation of new innovative enterprises coming out of the academic research in a long run.
Close interactions among the project partners with different cultural backgrounds (Slovakia, Austria, Great Britain) are providing a unique opportunity to learn from each other in action, understanding the working processes and besides excellent science, exchange views on gender issues, fair working environment practice and management models, which is having an impact on the quality of the actual or future cooperation.