EARMA Conference Oslo


Forming a professional association – REGON Case Study


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Topic: EARMA and professional associations


Czech Republic, South Moravia, around 2010 - vast investment from the structural funds rapidly improves the research infrastructures of local research centres and attracts many excellent researchers. However, the Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS) recognizes that such investments, in isolation, are not sufficient for sustainable development of research and innovation potential of the whole region. The RIS also highlighted the fact that there is a lack of experience in supporting research projects and in research management in general.
Around the South Moravian Innovation Centre (JIC) as the RIS coordinator has formed a group of experts willing to meet and share best practices, discuss common problems and find solutions to them. A Regional Grant Offices Network (REGON) was created. Meetings were held on the first Wednesday of every month, open to all those interested in research funding and other related topics.
This group has grown over the years, and has also become the talk of the country. Participants did not regret traveling several hours to be in Brno at 9 am to join the meeting.
At the begging of 2020, Masaryk University, the most successful Czech institution in the obtaining the projects from the Framework programmes, took a lead of the group and was about to launch the new chapter of REGON. However, COVID-19 suddenly changed plans – the physical meetings were not possible.
Paradoxically, this helped in the end - online platforms created new forms of communication and opened meetings to the research management community from the whole country. Suddenly, a wider audience was involved in the discussions. The impact of the platform spread to a much larger number of institutions, with over 400 people taking an interest in the meeting and receiving minutes, presentations, and information.
The Czech research environment is relatively fragmented, with research institutions and therefore project managers concentrated in a few clusters mostly around large cities. Regular meetings, constant exchange of knowledge and some form of collaboration only takes place around Brno. And frankly, most of the communication is based on long-term personal relationships.
The ability to regularly bring together probably the largest group of RM professionals raised the question of how to take advantage of this movement, concentration of skills, great ideas and common goals and benefit together in the long term. This led us to the idea of establishing a professional association - the Czech Association of Research Managers and Administrators (CZARMA).
This idea is not new and there are many other professional associations in the university environment, but none with a focus on research management and administration. Is now the right time? Are we the right people to do it? Does it have a happy ending?
I will guide you through the REGON journey from a regional meeting of a few international project management enthusiasts to an attempt to create a broad professional platform.