Home Report A look back | The meetings as milestones of the project

A look back | The meetings as milestones of the project

27th Oktober 2021

After 54 months, CALIPSOplus will end on October 31st, 2021. Four and a half years that feel like an eternity, as if the project had started in the middle age, the pre-covid-19 era, and continued until the present day, the almost-past-covid-19 era. Which are the major outcomes, the most important impacts generated by CALIPSOplus?

  • 150,000 hours of access to accelerator-based light sources were provided, including financial support for the travel costs.
  • More than 800 scientists in so-called widening countries were directly reached by visits at universities and at conferences in the target countries.
  • 17 Twinnings were realised resulting in 11 independent beamtime proposals by earlier twinning guests.
  • The European Synchrotron and FEL User Organization (ESUO) was founded as legal entity and is now able to acquire own funding from European projects.
  • An inter-light source network of Industrial liaison officers has been established, building trust, capacity, knowledge, sharing best practice, generating ideas.
  • TamaTA, Tailor-made trans-national access for SMEs, was pioneered as a new access scheme fully in line with the requirements of the traditional trans-national access but fitting the needs of SMEs.
  • IT and data science people were brought together to collaborate and share a prototype portal for providing Data Analysis as a Service, resulting in the establishment of a sustainable network, alsocollaborating in subsequent projects PaNOSC, ExPaNDS, LEAPS…
  • More than 30 European metrology experts in collaboration with two European manufacturers of X-ray mirrors were able to create standards and data for industrial partners to improve deterministic polishing methods, improving in this way the market situation on high-quality mirrors.

This is a kaleidoscope of project outcomes, with the potential to make more and more patterns emerge whenever shaked. Common to all these achievements is the fact that it is all on people, people collaborating, people sharing ideas and contributing complementary expertise, people benefiting from the results. CALIPSOplus brought together people from 12 countries of Europe and of the Middle East. The networks and partnerships across borders that have emerged of this collaboration provide a major contribution to trust in and sustainability of Europe. This might be the most important impact of CALIPSOplus. A central element of a fruitful collaboration are regular meetings, creating the framework for people to meet face-to-face, to discuss and to get to know each other as human. The pandemic has prominently evidenced this need, despite the impressive development of powerful online tools for interaction.   

For this reason, CALIPSOplus shall be reflected against the suite of its project meetings.

Kick-off Meeting Dresden 2017

The kick-off meeting took place in Dresden at the site of the coordinator. Located in the triangle Germany-Poland-Czech Republic, the city of Dresden contributed to the European atmosphere of the meeting that enabled the people involved in the project to make contacts.

1st Annual Meeting Barcelona 2018

The first annual meeting happened to coincide with the International day of Light. It suggested itself that the opportunity needed to be taken to promote CALIPSOplus which precisely brings together the light sources in Europe and in the Middle East. The inclusion activities of CALIPSOplus with visits at universities in newer European member states, the twinning program and, most importantly, testimonials by people reached by those activities were central elements of an event published on Youtube. As second important topic was a meeting with other European research infrastructures networks. This meeting evidenced a large interest of all participants in collaborating on topics of common interest. The momentum of this first meeting was taken up in spring 2020 and lead to the creation of the ARIE network. In addition to these very successful parts of the meeting, there also were a few very critical discussions. Success of a project requires regular critical evaluation of project goals as new insights, evolution of the overall research landscape, of national and European research policies and similar aspects that affect the timeliness, relevance and achievability of project goals.  One such topic that was rather controversially discussed was a proposed single-entry point for proposal submission to the CALIPSOplus facilities. It was very important to sit together and to discuss various aspects in a face-to-face meeting, in order to be able to come to a conclusion that acceptable by all partners, which in the end was to drop this project. A second critical topic of a somewhat smaller scope was a planned survey among the users aiming at trying to identify some possible reason for the observation that the fraction of women among the users continues to be at about 30% since almost decades. The consortium finally concluded that launching such a survey exploiting the mailing lists of the user offices was not compliant with GDPR that had just been published at that time. 

2nd Annual meeting Aarhus 2019

To explore the portfolio of regions and landscapes in Europe, the 2nd annual meeting was moved far north from the Mediterranean, to Aarhus in Denmark. The CALIPSOplus consortium had the opportunity to visit ASTRID, a synchrotron considerably smaller than ALBA in Barcelona, and, most interestingly, to catch a glimpse of the LEGO model of Astrid under construction. Major topics of this meeting were, firstly, a report on the very fruitful midterm review meeting that had taken place in January 2019 as well as the encouraging reviewer report. As part of this report, the importance to consolidate ESUO had been emphasised. One building block towards meeting this goal was a business plan for ESUO that constituted a deliverable, which had just previously been finalised and submitted. This business plan had developed into a very extensive document, including amongst others a critical analysis of the status quo that steered extensive and controversial discussion. The document also discusses the various legal forms that ESUO could adopt to become a legal entity and a very nice outcome of CALIPSOplus at the end is that ESUO became an AISBL, precisely the format favoured in the business plan. Communication was another relevant topic and the scopes and different possible formats of a CALIPSOplus brochure and of a booklet targeting young children were discussed.

pixi booklets produced in 5 different languages

3rd Annual Meeting Orsay 2020

Moving from synchrotrons to an infrared FEL, the third annual meeting was planned to be hosted by CNRS, more precisely the team at the CLIO FEL in Orsay. However, the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the pandemic that resulted thereof obliged the consortium to cancel this meeting. Nevertheless, a clear need to meet and to talk was expressed and so the first (reduced) annual meeting in video format was scheduled.

Meeting of the CALIPSOplus GA, GoToMeeting, May 5th, 2020

It had been decided already a year before that travelling should be reduced and meetings of the Executive Board would be held by video conference. The consortium had therefore already acquired a licence for GotoMeeting and had been using this tool in various topical meetings. The format of video conferences as such was therefore already established at that time. The topics of the meeting were obviously aligned with the current situation. The consortium was deeply impressed to know that the organisers of the HERCULES school had managed to switch from the traditional format of a physical presence of the participants to online courses after having sent home the students. Further, it was decided to establish a rapid access route to beamtime for covid-19 related research and to request a cost neutral extension of the project by six months.

The high number of participants evidenced the obvious need of the members of the consortium to stay connected and well informed, and to see the colleagues, even if only virtually.

Another project meeting was held as a video conference in December 2020. Status reports were provided by the various work package leaders. The attendance was high, the atmosphere very positive, and the participants visibly enjoyed to meet and exchange with the colleagues. Interestingly, the  collaboration within the workpackages was intensified latest since fall 2020, supported by regular and frequent video meetings. In contrast, the missing physical meetings led to a kind of fragmentation, with very active collaboration within the work packages but a continuous fading away of an identification with CALIPSOplus and a global view on the project overall. This development was certainly further intensified by the fact that most work packages are mirrored by a LEAPS working group comprising largely the same participants. Therefore, it was a general agreement that the final meeting should take place in Dresden at the site of the coordinator, and that it had to be an in-presence meeting if at all possible.

Final Meeting Dresden 2021

The ring closed and, as the kick-off meeting, the final meeting took place in Dresden. Even though initially planned as a fully physical meeting, it turned out that realistically the situation regarding the pandemic required enabling also a remote participation. The meeting was therefore organised in hybrid format, with overall 15 participants on site and all other participants connected remotely.

The on-site participants also comprised two users who had been supported by CALIPSOplus, one of them having profited from trans-national access support, the other a twinning guests. The consortium was particularly pleased by the fact that the EC project officer participated in all three days of the meeting. The meeting started with  a round table discussion, during which the participants were invited to formulate their personal view on the project as well as to draw a conclusion regarding the future perspectives of project achievements. Already at this stage, sustainability, in particular regarding funding of trans-national access to the unique European user facilities, was indicated as the most important challenge following the end of CALIPSOplus. Rather traditionally, the second day was devoted to reports from the work packages, to user talks and to a guided tour through the user facilities operated by HZDR. Trans-national access was then taken up and constituted the topic of a panel discussion on the third day of the meeting.  A vivid discussion was initiated by considerations from participants who had been most active in fostering inclusion of scientists from newer member states, in paving the way to a reinforced exploitation of the potential of research infrastructures by industry, interacting with users and by a representative of the European users. The conclusion was that the most prominent challenge remaining to be tackled after CALIPSOplus was to work out suitable, realistically affordable and sustainable formats to ensure that each scientist with a competitive and promising research topic is able to access the best European research infrastructures for his or her particular research.