Technopolis showed a strong presence at the #REvaluation21 Conference on Anticipation, Transformation, and Resilience by the Austrian fteval platform, proving that we’re right at home in the co-creation of new approaches searched for in STI policy evaluation. Our contributions as presenters, panellists, moderators and discussants covered freedom of research in the context of political crisis, health issues, conceptual models to capture the transition to third generation in the governance of RTI funding, structural funding evaluation, as well as new approaches in data analysis and presentation. Altogether 9 Technopolitans from 3 offices (AT, NL, UK) attended this event on site.
The REvaluation21 conference took place in Vienna on 4th-5th May 2022 and was organized by the Austrian platform for research and technology evaluation fteval in cooperation with ISFRI and Fraunhofer ISI. fteval is a unique organization located in Vienna that hosts national and international discussions on the major issues and trends in STI policy and evaluation and offers a platform for the community to engage in discussion about the pressing issues in our field. The conference themes covered the trend towards the increasing demand for research activities to be mission-oriented and to facilitate large-scale societal transformation processes and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has illustrated the need for resilience in science and innovation systems. Postponed from its initial date in November 2021, the conference finally took place in May 2022, for the sixth time uniting the international community in policy evaluation, academia, policy making and R&D funding agencies. Overall, the conference offered more than 60 contributions in 20 different sessions.
Our contributions amounted to the following:
- Erik pointed to the dramatic increase in the amount of transitions research discussed at the conference, and underlined the importance of connecting it to governance and policy implementation. Addressing the societal challenges involve much more than research and innovation. They are urgent, so we cannot afford to wait to find perfect solutions but must start to implement change even while we do more research.
- Katharina initiated a discursive presentation of the evaluation of the Austrian competence centres programme COMET, with the client (BMK) and implementing agency (FFG). Together, they showed how an evaluation can radically focus on systemic impact, notably by using smart visualisations, thorough data analysis and contextual understanding.
- Tobias presented lessons learned when evaluating the Alexander von Humboldt’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative and the challenges encountered by evaluators, programme owners, hosts, and the researchers under threat on their journey to restart their careers. While some challenges can only be acknowledged, many were overcome by cooperation amongst organisations and engagement of individuals.
- Anete, Peter and Billy presented a paper about international rapid responses to funding COVID-19 research. It covered seven international research funders and highlighted different funding process modifications that funders used to substantially speed up their application and assessment processes. Their paper extracted some recommendations for what a generic ‘societal emergency’ funding toolkit might include to optimally manage these tensions in case national research funders are called upon again to respond to future crises − to the positive appraisal of science funders present!
Furthermore, Technopolitans left their mark throughout the event, being involved also in the scientific and organizing committees (Katharina, Thyra, Tobias), as session chairs and discussants (Katharina, Thyra, Tobias) and members of the panel (Erik, Katharina)! Not to forget the visibility and manifold contacts of our staff throughout the conference. Perhaps our biggest showing was achieved when Mamen was awarded the Young Evaluator’s Award on the final day of the conference − CONGRATULATIONS!