Kick-off meeting of EXPERT sets the frame for 5-year collaborative project

On October 24-25, 2019, the EXPERT consortium came together to officially kick off the project. The meeting was hosted by Prof. Raymond Schiffelers from University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU) and took place at the Botanical Gardens of Utrecht University.

After warmly welcoming the consortium, the EXPERT coordinator opened the first meeting day by looking back on the last months, in which the proposal and negotiation phase were successfully completed. He introduced the general project idea with a particular focus on the different groups of people involved and their expected roles. All partners shortly introduced themselves outlining their group expertise and highlighted their tasks in the project. To ensure a successful implementation, the work package leaders presented the planned work and objectives in the different work packages within EXPERT.

The responsible EC Officer Anna-Pia Papageorgiou was welcomed by the consortium. She highlighted some “lessons learnt” from other EU clinical trial projects and also gave an overview about “Horizon Europe”, the European Commission’s next research and innovation framework programme.

The first day ended with a joint dinner in the famous University Hall - Utrecht University’s ceremonial heart and its public face, located in the centre of Utrecht. This set a majestic frame for the eleven project partners to get to know each other and to discuss possible ways of cooperation.

Day 2 was further dedicated to work package and horizontal activity presentations. The consortium jumped right into in-depth discussions, defining the steps to be taken during the first 12 months to keep the project on track right from the beginning.

As EXPERT aims to closely collaborate with other related Horizon 2020 initiatives in the field, the coordinator of the iPSpine project, Prof. Marianna Tryfonidou (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University) attended the Kick-off meeting and presented her project which was funded under the same call. During this session, potential interaction areas between the two Horizon 2020 projects were discussed.

The Project Management partner EURICE addressed project management, contractual and administrative topics as well as aspects related to Intellectual Property, dissemination and exploitation of project results.

At the end of the project, Prof. Schiffelers took the chance to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and commitment. The 1st progress meeting is planned for April 2020 in Trondheim, Norway.