On 7 November 2017, over 50 participants converged in Brussels, Belgium, for the European Commission (EC) Horizon 2020 funded COLUMBUS project’s second Annual Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Conference. The second COLUMBUS conference titled “Achieving Impact from Marine Research” provided the forum to collaboratively explore the barriers, challenges and possible solutions to achieving the impact potential of marine and maritime research, at all stages of the funding cycle.
The conference was opened by David Murphy of AquaTT, COLUMBUS Strategic and Operational Lead, who emphasised “the need for action is now, we need to stand together as a community and work towards a future where high-quality research is more effectively transferred for measurable impact and the benefits are seen on the ground by society at large”.
The day commenced with the presentation of relevant knowledge generated by the COLUMBUS project, as well as examples of impact achieved from successful Knowledge Transfer activities performed by other initiatives, organisations and projects. This celebration of impactful Knowledge Transfer set the scene for the afternoon session where keynote speeches from representatives of industry, academia and policy informed a lively panel discussion with provocative topics being covered; such as:
• Whose responsibility is it to carry out Knowledge Transfer?
• How can funding mechanisms be improved to incorporate Knowledge Transfer mechanisms?
• What are the barriers to effective Knowledge Transfer and are they evolving?
The intense enthusiasm that resulted from these discussions only highlighted further the need for training and consultation in Knowledge Transfer to become more abundant. The participants strongly agreed on the benefits of brainstorming and debating with other attendees. The overarching consensus was that roles and responsibilities need to be clarified, as well as the terminology surrounding the topic. COLUMBUS will continue to involve all interested stakeholders as it defines recommendations and guidelines for how Knowledge Transfer could be incorporated into funded research as a key legacy output of the project, which will be presented at the final COLUMBUS conference.
On either side of the conference, COLUMBUS ran a number of other important events. On 6 November 2017, External Capacity Building Training, entitled “Creating impact by knowledge transfer to support funding agencies”, was provided to eleven participants and covered an introduction to the robust and validated COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer Methodology, as well as considerations for funding agencies to support an increase of impact from funded research projects. In parallel, the COLUMBUS External Advisory Board met to discuss the progress of the project and to provide strategic advice on how the project’s legacy could be maximised. Finally, on 8 November 2017, COLUMBUS partners met for their 6th Partner Meeting. The meeting focused on planning for the remaining months of the project which will include the final COLUMBUS Annual Blue Society Knowledge Transfer Conference in January 2018.
The “Making Marine and Maritime Science Count” conference will provide an opportunity to discover and celebrate the COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer methodology and its activities. This conference will be held in Brussels on the 24 January 2018, and will bring together partners, collaborators and interested parties to highlight Knowledge Transfer case studies and lessons learned through the work performed by the COLUMBUS project.