Meeting with Dr. Inga Dadeshidze and Ms. Katalin Alföldi, two COST Representatives who took part in the COST Info Day in Tbilisi
On Friday 4 May 2018, two COST Info Days took place in two different cities, each located in the Eastern Partnership Countries: Chisinau, Moldova and Tbilisi, Georgia. On this occasion, we had the chance to discuss after the events with two COST representatives who were present at the Georgian Info Day: Dr. Inga Dadeshidze, Science Officer and Ms. Katalin Alföldi, Policy Officer.
In short, COST or the ‘European Cooperation in Science and Technology’ Association, is a European Framework supported by the European Programme Horizon 2020. It focuses on developing dialogue and exchange of knowledge among researchers through the European Union and beyond. "COST aims to allow researchers, engineers and scholars to jointly develop their new ideas and new initiatives across all scientific disciplines through trans-European networking or nationally-funded research activities", explains Dr. Inga Dadeshidze. The association counts 37 ‘Member States’ and one ‘Cooperating State’ (Israel).
The purpose of COST Info Days is therefore to inform researchers’ communities about COST Actions, the followings consisting in networking instruments which include meetings, workshops, conferences, training schools, short-term scientific missions (STSMs) and dissemination activities. "COST organises Info Days at the request of its Members but it is also possible to organise them in the so-called Near Neighbour Countries, which are the countries neighbouring the COST Member States", mentions Ms. Katalin Alföldi. "For example, last year we were in Ukraine and on Friday 4 May this year, we were both in Georgia and in Moldova".
The Info Day in Tbilisi was organised by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and gathered around 70 participants. "It was a great Info Day, one of the best in the season! Participants seemed to have prepared themselves and we received very good questions which showed interest from the researchers’ side", explains Ms. Alföldi. "We also had a meeting earlier during the day with COST President, Dr. Sierd Cloething, and the Minister of Science and Education, Mr. Chkhenkeli. After the meeting, a Ministry representative stayed with us during the Info Day, which shows the commitment of Georgia to its researchers", she added.
Attendees were given information on how they can participate in COST Actions and activities, as well as how they can be part of a network preparing projects proposals. As a Near Neighbour Country, Georgia can participate and benefit from COST Actions, there is just a special attention that needs to be paid to ascertain mutual benefit in the application. "One way to participate for Georgian scientists is to apply for the running actions. They have to be affiliated to an institution and can look at our website for a topic which is interesting them or which is close to their research areas. They can then write about their interests and need to explain what will be beneficial for them and what they will bring to the Actions. It is an online procedure which does not last longer than 15 days. The other way to go is to participate from the beginning when the Action proposal is being prepared. In this case, applicants are involved in the proposal preparation and they are already founders of the Action. Therefore, after the Action is selected for funding, they can join it", specifies Dr. Dadeshidze.
The two COST representatives also emphasize that participants of the Info Day in Tbilisi were presented various relevant examples from Georgian researchers sharing their experiences. "Some gave testimonials regarding COST Actions and what it is like, what you can achieve, how you can reinforce your network, advance your career, and they were very enthusiastic", explains Ms. Alföldi. Among different examples of successful Georgian participation, was the project ‘Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories (COMPACT)’ for which Mr. Bakar Berekashvili is the Georgian Management Committee Observer. Mr. Berekashvili who has a background as a researcher in Political Science, originally applied for a short-term scientific mission (STSM) and got to spend one month in Madrid. Afterwards, he came back to Georgia where he is now teaching as a professor for the Georgian American University what he learned during his STSM. Another example is the project ‘Empowering the next generation of social enterprise scholars’ for which Ms. Maia Giorbelidze from the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University is the Georgian Member Committee Observer. Through the project, she was able to publish papers as well as to actively take part in more activities of the Action and she is now working for the UNDP in Georgia.
Some inspiring examples of cross border cooperation in the scientific community that Dr. Dadeshidze and Ms. Alföldi are also representing well. Originally from Georgia and Hungary, they are now both working in Belgium where the COST Association is based. "We are open to have more Info Days in the Near Neighbour Countries", they said enthusiastically to close our discussion.
COST Policy Officer, Ms. Katalin Alföldi, COST President, Dr Sierd Cloething, and COST Science Officer Dr. Inga Dadeshidze, Tbilisi, Georgia, 4 May 2018.