The European NewSOC project after the first 6 months

Wednesday 01 Jul 20

The partners had left the kick-off meeting in Lyngby, Denmark, with high ambitions and full of energy to get the NewSOC project going. However, a few weeks later, an unexpected worldwide pandemic set a stop to many of the great plans for experiments. COVID-19 forced many countries to drastic actions, such as lock-down of large parts of the society. Research was effected to great extent. Many research institutions closed completely, allowing only home office work or very limited lab work. These measures naturally affected a project like NewSOC, which is heavy on experimental work.

However, all partners tried to make the best out of the situation, focused on literature studies, computational work, evaluation of existing data, and lab work to the extent possible. The first half-year meeting was thus a rather atypical project meeting. International travel restrictions did not allow holding the meeting at the partner location of IREC in Barcelona. Instead, the digital medium Zoom came into play. No fewer than 43 colleagues participated in the meeting, which ran perfectly, technical wise.

The work package leaders presented the progress. Indeed, despite the obvious limitations due to COVID-19, NewSOC has progressed. On the other hand, the presentations also revealed and quantified significant delays due to lab closures, which lead to the only possible conclusion: to ask for extension of the NewSOC project. The partners provided detailed justifications and a new distribution of deliverables and milestones.

Even though the technical functionality of Zoom allowed an efficient meeting and discussion, we all missed the personal contacts, the discussions during coffee breaks in smaller groups, and the come-together, which typically gives an extra motivating boost to the work to come. We are looking forward to a gradual return to a normal life and work and to be able to report on the progress of the NewSOC project at the next half-year meeting – hopefully again a physical meeting.

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7 AUGUST 2020