(by Faiz Sheikh)
A gathering of the entire PRIMO network took place for the EU’s Mid-Term Review (MTR) of our work and organisation at the University of Hamburg, 9-10 July 2015. The MTR is an ocassion in the life-cycle of EU funded Initial Training Networks where the work and management of the network can be presented to the project managers at the EU, to receive feedback and suggestions for improvement as the network moves into the second half of its project; For PRIMO then, the MTR took place at the end of its second year (of four).
Almost 30 PRIMO students, scholars and partners travelled to Hamburg from 9 countries on 4 different continents for the 2 day event, a testament to the global scope of the work PRIMO undertakes. Joining us was Professor Wojciech Kostecki, who assumed the role of writing the report for the Research Executive Agency of the EU. The network members were, needless to say, a little nervous and keen to impress. All nerves dissapeared however, upon introductions with the friendly and always similing Professor Kostecki and the introduction from the coordinator of PRIMO, Professor Cord Jakobeit.
Professor Jakobeit’s introductory report covered all aspects of the network’s functioning from recruitment, to financing and training activities. These training activities were then tested, so to speak, when the baton changed hands from the management team to the PRIMO Early Stage and Experienced Researchers (ESRs and ERs), who presented on their work thus far. Presenting and answering questions frrom Professor Kostecki, the ESRs and ERs excelled in conciesly and confidently outlining their research aims, methodologies and initial findings.
Changing venue for the evening, the PRIMO network further showcased their work with the final session for day one of the MTR, a public roundtable hosted by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) titled: Cooperation among the BRICS Revisited: Towards an Impact on Global Governance? The roundtable included PRIMO scholars Professors Cord Jakobeit (University of Hamburg), Andrew Hurrell (University of Oxford) and Ummu Salma Bava (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) and Assistant Professor Paulo Esteves (Pontifical Catholic University, Rio De Janeiro). In addition, two PRIMO private sector partners were represented by Mr. Stuart Jackson (Jaguar Land Rover Ltd.) and Ms. Doris Hillger (Hamburg Chamber of Commerce). The event was fascinating, with short introductory comments by the panel members on the continuing significance of the BRICS, discussion, and audience Q&A. The range of perspectives from different geographical regions, as well as the interplay between academics and private sector representatives, created a very stimulating and insightful discussion for both panel members, who might never have had such frank discussions with individuals from such sectors/regions, and the audience.
During both days, Professor Kostecki held closed meetings with the PRIMO management team, supervisory board and ESRs and ERs. These meetings covered all sorts of topics relating to management, finances, training, and research projects. On conclusion of each of these meetings, the final session of the MTR was an open feedback and discussion session where all network members could hear the warm words Professor Kostecki had for the project, and his positive impressions and constructive feedback.
For many, PRIMO is one of the largest projects they have been inolved in. As such, the experience of participating in the MTR, understanding more about the expectations of large funding bodies for research projects, how they are managed, and networking with other researchers and private sector partners from all over the world, was invaluable for all who participated. Bring on the next two years!