Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

In a two-days intensive exchange the FORTHEM Alliance officially launched its new EU-project FIT FORTHEM - Fostering Institutional Transformation of R&I Policies in European Universities, funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Program of the European Union under the Grant Agreement 101017248.

On January 25 and 26, 2021 more than 50 delegates of the seven FORTHEM partner universities, Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz Germany (JGU), University of Burgundy in France (UB), University of Jyväskylä in Finland (JYU), University of Opole in Poland (UO), University of Palermo in Italy (UNIPA), University of Latvia in Riga (UL) and University of València in Spain (UVEG), came together in a virtual meeting to officially start their joint activities to strengthen their research and innovation dimension, and to pave the way for future rich collaboration and co-creation.

On day one, warm welcome notes were given by the Coordinator of the FORTHEM Alliance, JGU Vice President for Learning and Teaching  Prof. Dr. Stephan Jolie, and the Coordinator of FIT FORTHEM, Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller-Stach, JGU Vice President for Research and Early Career Academics, followed by special contributions from the Policy Officer, and representative of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, Stijn Delaure, as well as the Project Officer Charles de Chefdebien  and the Financial Officer, Isabelle de Meeus d‘Argenteuil  from the Research Executive Agency. The guests highlighted the role of the European University Network to further develop both the European Education Area and the Research Area, and to actively contribute to transformation processes. They also provided deep insight into regulations and conditions related to the implementation of the project.

During the first regular meeting of the FIT FORTHEM General Assembly, staffed with representatives of university administrators, high-level professionals, and student representatives,  Dr. Timo Taskinen (JYU) was elected as vice-chair and Prof. Dr. Fabrizio D’Avenia (UNIPA) as the person responsible to promote a comprehensive integration of FORTHEM and FIT FORTHEM, .

Top-level candidates were nominated for the External Advisory Board of the FIT FORTHEM project by the respective partners. All prospective members shall be inaugurated shortly to support the joint activities and to give advice on their implementation. Names and profiles of these renowned experts from different fields will be presented to the public as soon as officially confirmed.

Day two of the meeting was fully dedicated to the work packages and their realization. Work package leaders Dr. Nicole Birkle (JGU), Dr. María D. Pitarch (UVEG), Prof. Dr. Fabrizio D'Avenia (UNIPA), Dr. Riikka Reitzer (JYU), Prof. Dr. Frédéric Debeaufort  (UB), and Prof. Dr. Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska  (UO), shared their ideas on how to get started the future joint activities and strongly encouraged all participants to critically contribute to the inspiring follow-up discussions.

The kick-off event demonstrated the tremendous commitment of all organizations and actors involved and provided a successful initial impetus for FIT FORTHEM.