Cape Town, South Africa
From the formal plenary to parallel sessions, live radio broadcasts and fringe events, the ICRI 2016 event is definitely buzzing. Research Infrastructure(RI) issues continued to provoke interesting discussion as we explore moves towards a collaborative approach on globally-relevant Research Infrastructures.
Day 2 kicked off with the only plenary for the day, a discussion on Science Diplomacy, Research Infrastructures and Societal Challenges. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa Director Dr Rob Adam addressed ICRI participants on arguably the world’s biggest RI project. The mammoth initiative will eventually see the construction of the world’s biggest radio telescope constructed in South Africa and Australia. In spite of a funding constrained environment, several European members states are contributing to make sure the initiative becomes a reality. South Africa is also working with several of its African neighbours to construct dishes that will be linked in the African Very Long Interferometry Baseline Network (AVN)
After tea break it was time for the four parallel sessions: Towards long term sustainability, Socio-economic impact of Research Infrastructures, Expanding partnerships across disciplines, sectors and world regions and the Inclusive Research Infrastructures for Development and Capacity Building. The sessions made for lively discussions which included Minister Naledi Pandor.
At the same time SAFM talk radio station was broadcasting live from the event, featuring EU Ambassador to SA, Marcus Cornaro, Dr John Bell, Minister Pandor and Department of Science and Technology(DST) Deputy Director-General Thomas auf der Heyde.
While on the sidelines, the European Commission Director-General Robert-Jan Smits and the DST Director General Dr Phil Mjwara were leading respective delegations in the 14th Joint Meeting of the Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee. South Africa and the EU is marking 20-years of cooperation in Science and Technology.
And just when you thought the day was wrapping up, RI Roadmaps were launched, attracting large numbers of delegates. The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) launch was packed, and an overflow area in the Exhibition hall was quickly arranged. The updated 2016 roadmap demonstrates the dynamism of the European scientific community to develop new infrastructure.
Next, South Africa launched its first Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The cocktail event was jam-packed, as delegates were eager to hear Minister Pandor’s thoughts on the strategy. The country has made huge investments in RI and it believed that to maximize returns on this investments, scientists and researchers must have access to modern and appropriate infrastructure.
And after such a busy day, it was only fitting to relax and enjoy a lovely dinner at the V&A Waterfront.