An ancient African proverb evokes an idea that some business schools have ended up making their own and often present as a catchphrase. “If you want to go faster, move alone. If you want to go further, go in company”. A simple and authentic wisdom, like everything ancient, and at the same time a recommendation that has spread to other disciplines. This popular saying from Africa was echoed at the 9th Congress of the International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS), held in Durban (South Africa) in May 2023 under the theme ‘Towards a utopia in research and innovation management’, conceived as a macro international meeting place for sharing and advancing innovation and the impact of research management. CREAF was represented by Olga Roig –Pre-Award Unit head–, Teresa Rosas –Talent & gender officer– and Anabel Sánchez –Societal Impact officer– took part in the event.
“In research management, we bring together professionals from biology, physics, geology, sociology, political science, etc. who facilitate research, we share the same challenges”OLGA ROIG, CREAF’s Pre-Award Unit head
With a mirror effect, “INORMS provides us with a context on a global scale”, in the words of Olga Roig. Therefore, to learn about methodologies, hear first-hand experiences, explore challenges and share solutions applied to centres and universities from scientific and corporate cultures as diverse as South Africa, Latin America, New Zeland, the United States and Europe, among others. Although the participation of the three CREAF professionals is in a complementary environment, Anabel Sánchez adds that this international network “is a space in which to grow professionally and exchange good practices and, at the same time, give the profession the value it deserves”.
From South Africa to the world
Just a week before the opening of the INORMS 2023 global event, a study trip was organised to universities and research centres in the South African cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Gaborone (Botswana), Cape Town and Durban, with the theme ‘Global Challenges, Innovation and Impact in Research’. Among the dozen people from around the world selected to attend was Olga Roig from CREAF. “In the research management, we bring together professionals from biology, physics, geology, sociology, political science… both with a scientific profile and having completed a doctorate, as well as without”, explains Olga Roig Olga Roig. “We have in common that we support research, we facilitate it and we share the same challenges”.
This unique opportunity to meet and share knowledge aimed to establish links, especially with colleagues from South Africa, to create contacts with counterpart professionals for future mobility and collaboration actions (not only for research managers but also for CREAF researchers), to reinforce awareness and collaboration on the SDGs, to consolidate international scientific mobility, and to share a vision of the research and innovation environments in South Africa. Representatives from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States took part.
The study tour was convened by the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA), the Southern African Research & Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) and the Danish Association of Research Managers and Administrators (DARMA) . EARMA, SARIMA and DARMA are part of the global network of associations that make up INORMS.
“Working with INORMS is an injection of fresh air and new ideas, to face the challenges we have on the table as research managers”TERESA ROSAS, CREAF’s Talent & Gender officer
What inspires us
CREAF has been a member of EARMA for 12 years, with the aim of having the accreditation, the guarantee of meeting international standards and the necessary training, in the constantly evolving context of European and national funding programmes. This link also allows the centre to form part of working groups to share challenges, needs and good practices with colleagues from very different backgrounds. For Anabel Sánchez, CREAF’s Social Impact of Research officer, getting involved and participating in EARMA means “being part of working and learning groups such as EARMA Impact, in which a wide range of people who are promoting impact agendas in our respective institutions take part”.
“Belonging to INORMS provides a space to grow professionally and exchange good practices and, at the same time, give the profession the value it deserves”ANABEL SÁNCHEZ, CREAF’s Societal Impact officer
From a complementary point of view, for Teresa Rosas it means “an injection of fresh air and new ideas to face the challenges we have on the table as research managers in the best way possible”. Forceful and graphic, for Olga Roig the feeling with EARMA “is to have found the tribe: a group of people from different parts of Europe with the same challenges as me, very willing to be empathetic, to create a professional network and, above all, the necessary support to reinvent ourselves, to provide effective and quality support to the scientific community in our institutions”. A reference, no doubt, to the singularities of a profession that travels the road alongside science, with the shared objective of evolving knowledge.
Measuring on a global scale undoubtedly broadens the field of vision and, in a way, allows us to capture the pulse of the situation. Based on CREAF’s experience in South Africa in 2023, we assume that the centre’s professional research management practices meet all the initial standard. We are now at the point of consolidation, growth and innovation in a number of areas. It is not for nothing that EARMA is making it mandatory for its partner centres to have a career plan for their own research management teams as of 2023.