I just got back from an EU event called ICT 2010 (held 27-29 September in Brussels). It’s run every two years and in fact it is more of a business event rather then a scientific conference.
The goal is to gather people connected to ICT innovation and research in Europe though participation in Europan Commission funding programs.
Throughout the first two days of the conference in which I participated there were a number general talks connected to fostering innovation in Europe (eg. quite interesting keynote & panel on “Driving societal change, opportunities for all“) but also focused panels and so-called Networking Sessions that were run in smaller groups of interest and on particular topics (eg. for one I attended Open Innovation session which unfortunately didn’t really prove that interesting for me). Apart of that large part of the venue was taken by exposition stands that were presenting the projects and research done with EU funding. The interesting part of this was the diversity, the projects showed that ICT research (with some cool outcomes) is being funded in really many areas.
Nevertheless, its worth to note that the key value of this event is not the talks but the opportunity to meet new contacts for future proposals and business. It was very evident that all the participants came there to take out as much value as possible for future funding opportunities. All the time pretty much everybody (over 1k participants) was hunting for new contacts that could later develop into consortiums for EU proposals (2.8 Billion eur for ICT R&D in 2011-2012). This was very clearly visible.
In conclusion the ICT 2010 was quite interesting and indeed a big event. Definitely not to miss for people interested in European research or collaboration with European researchers. From my personal perspective as a PhD student and a university researcher this was a nice opportunity to see what others do and I got some new contacts and collaborations for both academic research and writing/participating in proposals. Oh and an additional bonus: for students the registration is for free making this a truly great opportunity!