1. Doctor Masia, you organised this webinar on overcoming EU countries' inequalities in science. Why is this topic important?
I think that the financial crisis has triggered an unexpected effect on European Science: some countries have made huge cuts to research funding and, consequently, have lost their best researchers to those countries that have kept the investment in R&D high. This has caused a huge brain drain that could have important consequences for the future of European Science. This webinar is the first in a series aimed at forming a big picture of European policies, always with an eye on potential future developments.
2. How did the webinar go?
We are happy with the outcome. More than 180 people registered and approximately 100 attended it; we had a constant number of 60 attendees for the whole webinar, which lasted 70 minutes. Personally, I found it was great, but I might be biased! 95 % of the attendees have said that it exceeded their expectations and 25 % found it excellent. At the end of the debate we even received an invitation to organise a session on the topic at ESOF 2016. I think that the journalist who moderated the debate should take most of the merit for this success. He worked hard on the preparation and was able to glue together different perspectives with a nice narrative.
3. Which stakeholders were present? What was their role?
We invited four people: Amaya Moro-Martin is an ‘activist’ scientist from Spain who launched a very popular campaign to have countries like Spain or Italy investing more in R&D (for more info, have a look at ‘They have chosen ignorance’ – http://openletter.euroscience.org/open-letter).
Then we had Kieron Flanagan, a Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Policy at the Alliance Manchester Business School, who has published conceptual and empirical work on a range of issues in science, technology and innovation policy and has worked with or advised international, national and regional/local policy-makers.
Katrien Maes is the chief Policy officer of the League of European Research Universities. She is responsible for policy development in many areas; from research funding, management and assessment, to research careers, doctoral training, professional development and gender issues. She is an expert in EU research policies and programmes.
Finally, we had invited Octavi Quintana-Trias, who works at the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation. Unfortunately, due to a last minute work commitment, he could not participate.
4. Do you have any tips to share on how to organise and advertise such events?
We started organising the event in November, more than four months ago. I think that time is one of the most important factors for organising this kind of event successfully. We could contact the journalist and the speakers and let them choose the most convenient date to hold the webinar. In addition, partnering with EuroScientist gave us the advantage of disseminating the information to a broad public, including outside of the MCAA. In spite of good planning, we had some minor glitches in the last few days; we are still in the learning process and we need to improve on some points.
5. How was the webinar financed?
The MCAA provided the webinar platform and contracted the journalist. We also provided most of the organising infrastructure and we took care of part of the advertising.
6. How can the MCAA support this kind of event?
I think that the MCAA has huge potential for content creation. I would like to stress that I mean content demonstrating a high level of expertise and therefore with a potentially high impact on its audience. I believe that the MCAA should invest a lot in this aspect.
7. Did you learn anything while organising this event that you would like to share with other Members?
The organisation was a team effort. Within the PSR-WG, Claudia Simao helped set it up; then David Anciaux at Inova+ helped with technical support, and Simon Robinson, Aurélia Chaise and Zina Kremer helped with advertising, both within the MCAA and on social media. Externally I dealt with EuroScientist, the journalist and the participants to take care of other details. I must admit that was been an interesting and demanding experience. I think that the takeaway of this experience is that the team is important to make an event successful.
8. What will the next webinar be about?
We are considering various options. The attendees have expressed a preference for the topics ‘science and business’, ‘open science’ and ‘research integrity’. They are all topics of high interest for the MCAA. As soon as we have the new funding (let’s say September) we'll work on organising more webinars.