The Consortium of European Research Infrastructures EMSO-ERIC, dedicated to European multidisciplinary research on the seabed, and in which PLOCAN participates, has organized together with ENVRI-FAIR WP3, a workshop on how to exploit the innovation potential of infrastructures Environmental Research (ENVRI).
EMSO ERIC, a beneficiary of the ENVRI-FAIR project and an active member of the ENVRI community, is committed to promoting innovation by strengthening collaboration between research infrastructures and the ENVRI industry, in the development of key areas of data services of infrastructure of research (IR): products, technologies and training.
With an audience composed mainly of representatives of the Environmental Research Infrastructures (ENVRIs), the workshop aimed to present some examples of innovation carried out within the environmental research infrastructures, to assess the current state of collaboration between these infrastructures and the industry and, finally, to expose the first needs of the industry related to environmental research infrastructures. Specifically, the focus of the workshop has been how to boost ENVRI’s cooperation with industry as advanced service providers, buyers of cutting-edge technologies, and partners in the development of new data-driven products and applications.
For this, the event was conceived with three possible specific objectives: to present some examples of innovations carried out within the ENVRI community; review the status of collaboration between ENVRI and industry; and introduce the needs and expectations of the industry towards ENVRI. Nine invited speakers, grouped into three main sessions organized according to the above objectives, made presentations and participated in the two main open discussions and the final round table.
The first session was opened by ENVRI-FAIR project coordinator Andreas Petzold, who provided an overview of the purpose and activities of the project with a focus on the potential of IR services that could be of interest to the industry. Some services and innovation results were presented by representatives of LifeWatch ERIC and EMSO ERIC.
In the second session, representatives of the EOSC Association, ENRIITC and CATRIS projects presented the status of collaboration between research infrastructures and industry, providing initiatives to promote and strengthen collaborations between them. The third and final session was devoted to gathering industry perspectives and needs. In fact, the speakers in this session described the perspectives of EARSC (European Association of Remote Sensing Companies), SEABASED and OEE (Ocean Energy Europe Association) and the results of the E-shape project.
The key-results and suggestions raised during the workshop will be at the core of the ENVRI-FAIR MS8 milestone “Report on Innovation and Training Workshop for Organized IR Industry Communication and Liaison Officers”. Specifically, the most relevant results of the workshop point to the need for greater awareness of the other sector; find facilitators to bridge the gaps between the two worlds and improve collaboration; have specific funded projects, such as E-shape, which allows co-designed pilot projects with industrial partners; and reliability between ENVRIs and the industrial sector.
The workshop noted the need for greater awareness of the other sector, from both sides: it would be valuable for the industrial sector to better understand the context of research infrastructures, while they could benefit from knowing the industry segments and the way in which proceed. For example, ENVRIs are distributed IRs and this picture can be difficult for industry stakeholders to understand. On the other hand, ENVRIs should better distinguish the different industry sectors they want to target (manufacturers, downstream industry …).
The panellists also emphasized trying to find facilitators to bridge the gaps between the two worlds and improve collaboration. To this end, the added value for the research infrastructure of having a figure such as “Industry Contact Officer” has been recognized, which could play a key role in the management of the ENVRIs. In fact, considering that the first mission of a European research infrastructure consortium is not related to the conclusion of direct commercial contracts with industry, the need to collaborate with the private sector is often overlooked.
In addition, it has been pointed out that there must be reliability between the ENVRI and the industrial sector. For example, private companies must rely on the quality and long-term sustainability of research infrastructure services before using them. Therefore, the sustainability of research infrastructure services is essential if the target users are from the private sector. Trust is essential also in terms of data and financing plans. Confidence could surely be improved with a better understanding of ENVRIs and their services.
The event had the participation of 43 registered attendants who actively intervened in the discussions.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 824068.