Enthusiastic approval for the 2016 MCAA Annual Conference
The 2016 MCAA General Assembly was heralded in by a one-day MCAA Annual Conference on the previous day. Both events were held in the historic Auditorium S. Margherita; one the many buildings owned by the Università Ca' Foscari on the western site of the Grand Canal in Venice. While the MCAA General Assembly on the Saturday 5th March was reserved for MCAA members only, the Annual Conference on the Friday 4th March was open to all; the 240 available seats were filled, and we could easily have welcomed more people had the auditorium been larger.
The Conference was officially opened at 09h30 by Snezana Krstic, Chair of the MCAA Board, followed by a Welcome speech[1] by Dario Pellizzon, Head of the Research Office of Ca' Foscari University.

This opening was followed by two speakers on the subject of ‘European Dimension in International Cooperation and Mobility of Scientists’. The first was Bodo Richter, European Commission, DG Education and Culture, Unit "Innovation in education, EIT and MSCA”. The second speaker was Marie Prchalova[2], from UNESCO.
A lively question and answer session was followed by a coffee break, during which there was clearly a lot of useful networking going on.
After coffee two speakers addresses the topic ‘A Career to Manage: Research Skills & Evolving Needs of the Job Market’. The first was Ilaria Pierdomenico[3], EURAXESS Italy, AREA Science Park. The second speaker was Athina Zampara[4], European Commission, Research Executive Agency, Unit REA-A1, Marie Skłodowska - Curie Innovative Training Networks. Again these speeches were well received, and followed by another lively question and answer session.

Everyone then moved off for lunch in the main building of the Università Ca' Foscari  University, situated in a prime position with magnificent views along the Grand Canal. Lunch was preceded by a Poster session in the main hall, where some 70 members had set up posters, and around an hour of frenetic networking took place around these exhibits, much of which followed on throughout the ensuing buffet lunch.

In the afternoon, participants were invited to choose between two parallel sessions. On the one hand was a session on ‘EU Opportunities - H2020 Calls – How to build consortia, build your bid and compete successfully’ animated by Cristina Gómez Corchete[5], Oficina Europea MINECO / FECYT - NCP for MSCA and by Anett Kiss[6] - University of Sussex. On the other hand was a session on ‘Building Science-Business Partnerships’ animated by Leonardo Alfonsi, EUSEA, Fumi Kitagawa[7], University of Edinburgh and Marco Gorini[8], European Enterprise Network in the Veneto Region of Italy. Both these sessions were followed by question and answer sessions, following which the participants were again invited to choose between two further parallel sessions.

The second round of parallel sessions offered a choice between on the one hand ‘Promoting Responsible Research Practices[9]’ animated by Snezana Krstic – Chair of the MCAA and on the other hand ‘Communicating Research - How to Engage your Audience’ animated by Leonardo Alfonsi, FameLab with Sofia Rossi, Neuroscientist and Lorenzo Pizzuti, Physicist, Cristina Gómez Corchete[10], Oficina Europea MINECO / FECYT – National Contact Point for MSCA in Spain and Wuraola Akande[11], University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Once again, both these sessions were followed by question and answer sessions, following which the participants were invited to reconvene in the Auditorium S. Margherita for the ceremony marking the 2015 MCAA Awards. This was animated by Anett Kiss, Chair of the MCAA Grants and Award Working Group[12] and Francesco Grassi, Vice-Chair of the MCAA .

Two awards and one Recognition were conferred:
  • The MCAA Career Award was presented to Dr Ira Didenkulova, Lead Researcher at Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University, Russia and Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. The award was in acknowledgement of her major contributions to the field of oceanography with her research into sea and coastal hazards, and for her contributions to the scientific community such as serving as role model for younger generations of scientists, especially women.
  • The MCAA Outstanding Contributor Award was presented to Dr. Brian Cahill, Group Leader at the Institute for Bioprocessing and Analytical Measurement Techniques, Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Germany, and Chair of the MCAA German Chapter. The award was in acknowledgement of his outstanding and exemplary contributions and leadership of the German Chapter and his contributions to the entire MCAA community.
  • Finally, an Honorary Recognition of the MCAA was conferred to Dr. Mike W. Rogers, ex-European Commission but now enjoying a happy retirement. The award was in acknowledgement of his major support in setting the scene for the MCAA to be created and to thrive.
A brief closing ceremony marked the end of the day’s proceedings at around 18h00, and participants scurried of to make the most of the fading sunshine in seeking out their evening’s enjoyment in the labyrinth of Venice’s streets and canals.