Date: 2 June 2022By

Eckart’s Corner – Words from the Secretary General #1-2022

Eckart's Corner

Dear members and friends of the Global Innovation Family,

It’s been a while since you last heard from me – we’ve had busy but exciting times here at the WAITRO Secretariat.

A real highlight was the past WAITRO Executive Board meeting three weeks ago, which we were able to run in a hybrid form in Barcelona. Meeting face-to-face with old and new colleagues was an absolute blast and reminded me once again of WAITRO’s key strength: being a Global Innovation Family. For more than 50 years, the pillars of WAITRO’s work have been conferences, workshops, and joint events. Even though we have learned during COVID-19 that online formats work well, too, I am very glad that we can cautiously begin to carry out face-to-face events.

To keep up the spirit, the WAITRO Office Germany and the Regional Focal Point for Europe Leitat are jointly organizing a Horizon Europe Capacity Building & Networking Event in Barcelona on the 21st and 22nd of June. The event will be all about exchanging ideas and potentials under the Horizon Europe calls. I am excited to meet over 60 registered participants from across the globe and am positive that this event can be a kick-start to fruitful WAITRO collaborations for a sustainable future.

As happy as I am about face-to-face meetings, online formats remain hugely valuable. We at WAITRO will continue to offer these so that we can include as many Global Innovation Family members as possible. Therefore, I would like to invite you to a Capacity Development series of three online events on Diversity in International Research Cooperation:

We gathered information about all three events here.

If you are interested, you are kindly invited to register and submit questions you would like to discuss at the event here.

I also owe you information about the WAITRO Innovation Award winners for 2021 in case you haven’t read it on the website yet: After five great online pitches our Scientific Advisory Board selected two winners:

  • LEITAT/Spain (lead), FIIRO/Nigeria, TISTR/Thailand: Insect-based food sources to supplement nutrient deficiencies in vulnerable areas
  • BRIN/Indonesia and TISTR/Thailand: on strengthening food sustainability in Southeast Asia by utilizing a local tuber of Amorphophallus Muelleri Blume

Thanks to all of you for participating and congratulations to the winning teams!

And now a couple of insights into future plans of the WAITRO Secretariat:

We are currently planning another virtual Capacity Development workshop series around “Commercialization of Research Results” in September. More info will follow later.

The bigger news is that the Executive Board voted to give the Secretariat the “go” to prepare for a WAITRO Summit in South Africa in November. Obviously, we cannot predict how Corona will develop towards the end of the year. Nonetheless, we hope that no new, more dangerous variant will emerge and that we can host a large WAITRO Summit in person. Soon, I will be checking potential locations for the WAITRO Summit in the Cape Town region together with our new colleague Sira Engelbertz, who will lead the organization of the summit. We will keep you updated with news and details!

Last but not least, I would like to take the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts during these turbulent times. Two years ago, COVID-19 turned the world upside down and on February 24th, Russia attacked Ukraine. Naturally, international research cooperation is heavily impacted by these occurrences. For instance, the European Commission (EC) has decided to suspend cooperation with Russian entities in research, science and innovation, including those under the Horizon Europe program. In times like these, looking out for each other and collaborating for a better future are more important than ever. I personally think that networks such as WAITRO that enable and encourage international cooperation as opposed to national solo efforts offer a huge opportunity to do so.

Stay safe, stay human and stay tuned!


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About the Author: Eckart Bierdümpel

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