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Success of the Workshop “COFUND as a moving impulse of research excellence: challenges and opportunities”

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photo by Marko Pavlic

On June 17, 2016, the workshop “COFUND as a moving impulse of research excellence: challenges and opportunities“ was held in Zagreb, Croatia. The workshop was organized by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports as part of first Croatian Marie Curie FP7-PEOPLE-2011-COFUND programme – NEWFELPRO in cooperation with the European Commission, the Research Executive Agency and the Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes.

The aim of the workshop was to gather a strong network of stakeholders on a European level actively supporting and implementing COFUND programmes. As Mr Alan Craig from the Research Executive Agency stated at the beginning, COFUND is a great way to create synergies between European Union actions and those at regional and national level, as well as to leverage funding and combat fragmentation, and to present young and experienced researchers with opportunities to expand the scope of their research through mobility and cooperation with other researchers and institutions, not only on a national, but also European and global scale.

A great example of what researchers can do for their careers was shown by Ms Tea Žakula and Ms Nina Šesto. The participants of the workshop thus had a chance to gain insight into facts and misconceptions about scientists becoming successful entrepreneurs. They learned that starting up an enterprise is very similar to starting up a research project, and it was emphasized that academia and companies are key pillars of innovation framework. Ante Đerek and Jana Pisk talked about their experience as NEWFELPRO research fellows.

The second part of the workshop, divided into parallel sessions, dealt with challenges, opportunities, obstacles and solutions regarding COFUND H2020, as well as experience in implementation of FP7 and H2020 COFUND projects. The topics ranged from monitoring, dissemination and visibility of programmes and projects to opportunities, demands and experiences regarding young researchers’ employability. An important aspect of the workshop was the importance of synergies for research programmes and projects, i.e. how to find the optimal synergy model for small EU countries.

The workshop was concluded with a final word by Ms Miljenka Kuhar from the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports who in her speech emphasized the importance of such workshops and how exchanging ideas and experience about COFUND programmes can lead to better understanding of the whole process and offer benefits for all stakeholders.

Please find galleries of the event here and here.

The dinner at the Old Church Slavonic Institue was provided by Taste of Home. Taste of Home is a culinary-cultural-research project that introduces the culture, customs and countries of origin of refugees and migrants in Croatia by recording their memories of home, smells and tastes of their cuisine. This is an experiment in sharing life stories and culinary skills of refugees and people from Croatia. Tastes of home have been investigated and recorded over several years. For over ten years they have been meeting people in search of safety and happiness, people in search of home. By preparing the food they grew up with, refugees are evoking memories and creating new friendships and experiences in their new home. In the same time they are building on skills that will help them find employment and integrate in the new society. Taste of Home are led by values of appreciating human beings in search of happiness and safety ready to offer the best of them – tastes of their childhood as well as tastes of their adulthood in their new home.

The promotional materials for the workshop were provided by ACT Printlab LTD. ACT Printlab has grown in 2007 from the project of the Association Autonomous center - ACT as an interesting, innovative and necessary tool in the context of the development of civil society in the studio for design and visual communication / marketing. ACT Printlab ltd. is a non-profit social enterprise, graphic and web design studio that offers professional, high-quality, innovative products and services that meet the needs of partners and communities. We are able to offer a wide range of products and services: from visual identity, graphic design and layout of various promotional /marketing products, quality websites, badges, digital printing large format to digital / offset press incollaboration with partners. We believe that with our work contributes greatly to increasing thevisibility of civil society organizations. One of the main goals of the company is (re)investing profit in business (40 % gain), or investing in the community (60% gains). ACT Printlab is social enterprise guided by a model of triple bottom line, ie economic, environmental and social goals. During the decision-making processes, we encourage development and implementation of economic and participatory democracy - the right of employee that operates with an organization. In 2013, we started with the development of a project Ekoteka that combines the environment and design and with it we want to point out environmental problems while also raising the society's awareness. Using the combination of waste textiles and paper, our intention is to present an innovative approach to the creation of new products. This approach follows the design and environmental criteria and is oriented to solve environmental issues. By using recycled materials with a direct impact on the quality of the environment, the production without the generation of waste, and extending the lifetime of the products we provide and encourage social and sustainable development.

In 2015 United Nations Development Program in Croatia (UNDP) and nonprofit marketing agency BRODOTO started Crowdfunding Academy in order to educate nonprofits, companies and individuals on possibilities of wider usage of crowdfunding as one of the alternative financing models. Crowdfunding is still underused possibility for people with great ideas, and it is the intention of Crowdfunding Academy to show these people hoe they can use the crowdfunding as a way of financing of innovative and new projects that will make the world a better place.
Crowdfunding Academy serves everyone who has a great idea, but lacks knowledge how to use crowdfunding to make it a reality. Taste of Home was one of the first projects undergone Crowdfunding Academy program, and as such is total success story. The campaign managed to raise enough funds to start their own kitchen and catering service. ACT Printlab LTD is planning to launch the crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to develop further their project Ekoteka, and this is why they are one of this year participants of  Crowdfunding Academy program.