TUM Brussels: Coronavirus as chance – launching new ways of cooperation

TUM Brussels |

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain the spread of the virus, TUM Brussels quickly adapted to the new situation. Originally, the facilitation between TUM and its European partners is very much based on physical meetings, such as Horizon 2020 workshops. Now, we have established a new way of working: Innovative communicating paths, new virtual meeting forums while maintaining the same high-quality service to the TUM community, and a high sequence of activities.

Slide of the EuroTech webinar Research possibilities in times of Covid-19
The Brussels office currently organizes webinars to connect scientists of the EuroTech Alliance for joint Covid-19 research. Graphic: Anita Schneider
Prof. Birgit Vogel-Heuser in the laboratory
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Birgit Vogel-Heuser is Ordinaria at the Institute of Automation and Information Systems at the TUM Department of Mechanical Engineering. Photo: Uli Benz / TUM
Dr. Hans Pongratz is Senior Vice President for IT Systems and Services (CIO) at TUM
Dr. Hans Pongratz is Senior Vice President for IT Systems and Services (CIO) at TUM. Photo: A. Eckert / TUM

Even in times of lockdown across Europe, EuroTech and the TUM liaison office in Brussels do not come to a halt. Regularly, researchers of the EuroTech partner universities active in the focus areas, meet and discuss possible collaboration. This happens mostly in physical meetings organized in Brussels. Under the new circumstances, these facilitation workshops were transformed into interactive webinars.

In April, over twenty representatives of the EuroTech universities came together virtually to exchange research expertise within the field ‘Smart & Urban Mobility’. Also in the focus area ‘AI for Engineering Systems’, key persons from all six partner universities met virtually in May to explore collaboration potential.  

Fresh digital formats for the new normal

Next to the research focus areas, also other core working groups within the EuroTech Universities Alliance did not slow down. On the contrary: New working groups were launched, such as ‘Cooperation with China’, which already exchanged best practices and future policies handling the relationships with Chinese institutions in two webinars.

The EuroTech Chief Information Officers revived their exchange, also to learn from each other how to handle the challenges of campus life during the pandemic. Means of digital education have become even more important and the EuroTech partners agreed on developing a common approach in tackling this issue.

With excellent research happening at TUM and its European partners, also opportunities of European funding and collaboration around Covid-19 research were actively explored. European collaboration is more significant than ever to overcome this crisis together. Two webinars and matchmaking sessions hosted by the Brussels Office brought relevant researchers together.

Coronavirus does not slow down our motivation  

Overall, the situation created through coronavirus did neither hinder or slow down the activities organized via the Brussels branch nor the motivation to exchange and engage with European partners. The current crisis rather taught us what different kind of virtual tools and formats are available, and how well received they are. TUM Brussels has proven to be very agile in its way of working in a digital realm.

Even though physical meetings will be of crucial importance also in the future, we learned during the last months how fruitful a combination of physical and virtual meetings are, improving a sustainable and an environmentally friendly way of working. For this reason, further virtual formats are planned for the second half of the year, addressing the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Green Deal and the EU-Africa strategy. 

For more information, please contact Maria-Valerie Schegk.

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