EIT Food RIS RIN 2021 - Summary
In 2021, the University of Warsaw launched the pilot implementation of EIT Food Research Infrastructure Network (RIS RIN). RIS RIN is part of EIT Food RIS Public Sector Representatives Activity Line (PSRAL).
It is a professional training program supporting scientific organizations from RIS countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe that own agri-food research infrastructures. During the program, participants were offered the capacity building to enhance the commercial use and visibility of their research infrastructures, identify potential agrifood partners and stimulate the science-industry collaboration.
The 2021 cohort of participants started their RIS RIN training in September 2021. The program was delivered online due to the new COVID-19 restrictions. The online delivery format of the program allowed to accommodate more participants than initially planned. It allowed for a more paced approach to knowledge transfer, repeated interactions with trainers and mentors and stepwise team assignments with regular feedback, so it actually proved more effective than shorter face-to-face sessions. Teams representing 14 public sector organisations (universities and regional/national authorities) were selected in an open call, coming from Italy, Romania and Spain - countries targeted by the pilot program. Between September and November 2021, the teams attended regular online training modules, which helped them identify their key technological assets and leverage their research infrastructure for use in commercially oriented activities, including contract R&D for the industry, joint R&D projects, specialized services or spinning off innovative companies.
Participants were supported by trainers and mentors from the University of Warsaw, DIL (German Institute of Food Technologies) and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The training modules concerned among others:
- identification of key commercially relevant research infrastructure,
- developing marketing collateral to promote the unique infrastructures and competencies,
- identifying potential partners/clients by means of specialist industrial and patent databases,
- initiating contacts with potential partners through multiple channels including cold calling, emails, LinkedIn and other platforms,
- setting up operational plans for risk management,
- intellectual-property management,
- dealing with the challenges of public aid related to the publicly co-funded research infrastructures and legal modalities of specific countries and institutions.
Participants were preparing regular, weekly assignments, acquiring subsequent skills and gradually building their competencies. The training modules culminated in December with presentations of commercialisation plans by each of the participating institutions, aimed at boosting innovation capacities of their institutions and regional ecosystems.
The pilot of 2021 forms the basis for the development of a larger-scale RIS RIN program for 2022 when the training becomes available to participants from all RIS countries. The organizers will leverage the pilot activity to anticipate potential challenges in scaling up the program to multiple countries with diverse legal systems and national financial frameworks that support research infrastructures in universities and research institutes.
The well-structured content of the program, interactive training and helpdesk functionality offered by organizers reflected positively in participants’ feedback, where over 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the program met their expectations.