When European Alliances have a chance to exchange: A report from the first Annual TORCH Forum

The first Annual TORCH Forum took place on 2 March 2022 in Budapest and online. Its theme was  “Sustainability in a (post?) pandemic world: Asking the right question on the role of Universities in R&I today”. Over 180 people registered and almost 110 took part in virtual sessions, where European University Alliances discussed how the initiative, and particularly how the SwafS projects that each university has (FIT FORTHEM in FORTHEM) enhanced the R&I capacity of the partnering institutions.

In weeks leading to the event, FIT FORTHEM contributed to conceptualizing the sessions that were principally hosted by CHARM-EU Alliance. Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) provided the site and services, and presenters and discussants from ten Alliances shared their best practices and work in progress.

The forum opened with the welcome message of the Minister of Innovation and Technology from Hungary, Prof. Dr. László  Palkovics. Prof. Dr. László Borhy, Rector of ELTE welcomed the participants and so did Prof. Dr. Jordi Garcia, Vice-Rector of Research, University of Barcelona (TORCH Coordinator). A message from Prof. Stefan Müller-Stach, Vice President for Research at JGU Mainz (FIT FORTHEM Coordinator) was read by dr. Nicole Birkle, FIT FORTHEM managing coordinator.

The forum’s sessions were devoted to the following questions:

  •      ۞ how European Universities could spearhead and maximize R&I in a (post) pandemic world for a better, inclusive and sustainable future,
  •      ۞ how better bridges between universities / alliances and enterprises / citizens could be built,
  •      ۞ how research and researchers could be assessed in a fair and comprehensive manner,
  •      ۞ how academics could be brought together to develop projects that address current challenges and contribute to UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals,
  •      ۞ how transdisciplinarity,  inclusiveness and transparency of academic work should be adequately pursued,
  •      ۞ how open science practices could be mainstreamed and embraced by a larger portion of the academic community.

FIT FORTHEM presenters – Maria Dolores Pitarch (UVEG) and Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska (UO) – explained the work in progress in WP3 and WP4, particularly regarding the mapping of FORTHEM strongholds and the good-practice approach to the R&I agenda adopted in FIT FORTHEM.

FORTHEM Alliance Universities’ Selected Good Practices in R&I: Towards a European University.

The Forum was the first large-scale cross-alliance symposium and a chance to take a step back and compare ideas developed in various organizations, to get inspiration, and to see which solutions could be adapted or appropriated.

The Annual Forum will follow by a policy brief on the development of recommendations for the progress of a common EU Research and Innovation Agenda.

CHARM-EU offers access to all presentations on their website:

Plenary session | R&I trends in the (post?) pandemic scenarios

      →   European Strategy for Universities – ERA and Innovation. Ms Apostolia Karamali. Head of Unit. DG for R&I. European Union

Panel session | European universities: Towards a reform of the research assessment system

Cluster 1 | R&I Common Science Agenda and European CLUSTER 1 Universities

Cluster 2 | Business & Society and Academic cooperation

Cluster 3 | Public Engagement

      →​​​​​​​   Work Package 7: Public Engagement. Marjanneke Vijge (WP7 leader), Annisa Triyanti, Dries Hegger, Peter Driessen, Kirsten Hollaender

Cluster 4 | Cross-cutting principles to address a transformative R&I Agenda

Open Science panel

      →   Open Science at TORCH Institutions. Ignasi Labastida, Universitat de Barcelona



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