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Introduction to conferences

mardi 18 janvier 2011, par julien

Conferences are a well known device for gathering a community together, both for the formalised and the informal and open ended exchanges they promote. Policies for Research and Innovation are the realm of numerous conferences which try to bring together academics and policymakers. This is especially important in Europe with the multiple EC sponsored events and the now long-lasting tradition for each presidency to hold one (meaning one every 6 months !). We thus did not consider it as a major issue in Europe to create another one ! Thus our reluctance to create a European “AAAS”. We have however been active in developing ‘focused’ and ‘targeted’ workshops to discuss given issues or results - e.g. on regional policies for research and innovation (2006), on start-up firms and venture capital (2008), on knowledge and institutional dynamics (2008) or on research networks (2009).

What was missing, not only in Europe, was a periodic meeting place where academic and long-term research developments can be discussed enabling a comparison between different theories, concepts and approaches. This is why we have given so much importance to organise a yearly ‘PRIME week’ which format has changed year after year to cope with on-going developments and shifting interests (see page on annual conferences).

The same dynamics took place in the specialised subfield of the design of STI indicators. It took nearly two years of active exchanges between European indicator producers concluded by the 2005 Lisbon workshop to locate the role of research, that is the design of new positioning indicators. The European network of indicator designers ENID emerged from that reflection. It organised a first international conference in 2006 (Lugano conference), a clear success which validated the approach. The 2008 conference took place in Oslo. The following conference (March 2010) took place in Paris under the aegis of the newly formed international association of indicator designers (ENID Association). During this conference, an agreement was arrived at to coordinate the indicators and the scientometrics conferences, so as to offer the community a structured space worldwide in indicators issues. We consider this as another major achievement for the field.

We have also been pro-active in supporting our US colleagues to establish an equivalent periodic conference in Atlanta (first conference in 2006 co-sponsored by PRIME, other later conferences have witnessed a strong European participation) ; and the same has occurred with our Latin-American colleagues (2008 Mexico conference), while our efforts with our Indian colleagues have not materialised.