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Sofia EARMA Strategy Event

Sofia EARMA Strategy Event

Representatives from EARMA Standing Committees, thematic groups, course trainers, office staff and other key Association figures gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria, October 11-13, 2022, to discuss the past, present and future of EARMA as part of the Sofia EARMA Strategy Event. 

Our 2021 EARMA Strategy Event took place in Prague and this meeting was very fruitful in laying the groundwork for community-focused planning in the year ahead.

We were delighted to welcome everyone to the Metropolitan Hotel, Sofia, for a reception on the first evening. This allowed the group to reconnect with familiar faces and provided an opportunity to make some new contacts and friends.

Nik presenting Sofia

On the morning of our second day, we kicked off the meeting with a brief introduction of the agenda for the coming two days. This was then followed by a presentation on the history of EARMA. It was then time to get to know each other more through icebreakers. We got to hear some interesting stories and learned lesser-known facts about our participants.

We then looked at the status of the Association and the current strategy to set the scene for the upcoming discussions. As part of this presentation, we heard about EARMA successes such as breaking records for participation in our conference and events, improving our IT capabilities and developing a tailor-made digital platform for our community.

It was then time to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of volunteers and supporters of the Association in our thank you ceremony. As a community-led organisation, EARMA greatly appreciates the input and dedication of RMAs working together to ensure that this profession is recognised. 

Sofia discussion 1

The group was then updated on an important Horizon Europe funded project being conducted by EARMA and partners, RM Roadmap. RM Roadmap will support the strengthening of an inclusive research management community in Europe, creating framework conditions for research management to strengthen the European Research Area.

The project will connect existing European networks on a smart community platform, creating and informing a bottom-up consensus on the future of RM in a roadmap, and informing the community about existing training, networking, funding, and mobility opportunities. RM Roadmap will be a strategic focus of the Association over the coming three years.

Also discussed was the importance of Action 17.  This European policy initiative wants to strengthen the strategic capacity of Europe's public research performing and funding organisations. In practice, this means that the EU aims to respond to and develop solutions for the issues that research managers and administrators in Europe face. We heard that it is crucial that RMAs ask their national representatives to support the implementation of Action 17.

This was followed by meetings of the EARMA Board, Standing Committees and thematic groups, who took the opportunity to come together in-person and face-to-face with colleagues to plan ahead for the coming year.

Later, we took the opportunity to see the sights and experience the culture of Sofia on our walking tour. This commenced at the beautiful St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral and continued towards the Parliament, taking in other splendid landmarks on the way. The tour was followed by dinner in the city centre. 

Sofia discussion 2

The next morning was focused on interactive engagement through two World Cafe workshops in which the participants shared their ideas about how to improve the way EARMA works. We received some valuable insights and these will go a long way towards helping to shape future initiatives within the Association.

The agenda was completed with a very special edition of EARMA Campfire Stories. Participants told funny and heart-warming tales from their careers. This was a really nice way to end a productive and engaging three days of discussion. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us in Bulgaria for the Sofia EARMA Strategy Event. Your contribution to this meeting will be vital in planning for the road ahead and it was a great opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues in-person once again.