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Building bridges of excellence for young researchers

COST in 2017


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COST in 2017


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Contents About us

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Message from the COST President

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Introduction from the COST Director

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Highlights of the year

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COST Connect

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COST Academy

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Key figures of 2017

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Empowering young researchers - Stories of success

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Powering up for the Internet of Things

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Parrot network kick-starts a career

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Speaking up for prostitution research

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Surfing microwaves to success

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Getting under the skin

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Stronger together in bone materials research

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New heights for cloud researcher’s career

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A faster track to genetic therapy

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Bright new light in molecular physics

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‘Count me in’ to parse multi-word expressions

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Financial overview

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Our events in a nutshell

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Media and engagement

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Contents


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COST in 2017


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About us

About us


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About us COST is an EU-funded programme which enables researchers to set up their interdisciplinary research networks in Europe and beyond. We provide funds for organising conferences, meetings, training schools, short scientific exchanges and other networking activities in a wide range of scientific topics. By creating open spaces where people and ideas can grow, we are unlocking the full potential of science.

Who can participate?

How?

Researchers and innovators from universities, public and private institutions, NGOs, industry and SMEs. Particular emphasis is placed on activities involving researchers from less-research-intensive COST Countries (ITCs) with a view to increasing their participation.

COST does not fund research, but provides support for networking activities carried out within COST Actions. In this way, it coordinates nationally funded research. COST invites researchers across Europe to submit proposals for Actions through a continuous open call, no matter what their field of interest.

Researchers from Near Neighbour Countries and International Partner Countries can also take part in a COST Action on the basis of mutual benefit.

COST Action yearly funding

For more information on international cooperation, please see: http://www.cost.eu/about_cost/strategy/ international_cooperation

In 2017, the average funding totalled €134 000 for a network of 26 countries. The funds are provided via an annual grant agreement over a four-year period. Top-up funding is available for COST Actions with participants from Near Neighbour Countries.

Networking tools Meetings, workshops and conferences – These are organised by the COST Action management committees in any COST country participating in the network and are open to the entire scientific community. Short-term scientific missions (STSMs) –These are exchange visits between researchers in the network which enable scientists to visit an institution or laboratory in another COST country.

COST in 2017

Training schools – They offer training in a relevant or new subject at one of the Action’s laboratories which provides unique equipment and/or know-how. Dissemination activities – COST encourages and supports Action participants to disseminate the outcome of their research to other COST science and technology networks, the wider scientific community, policymakers, the media, and society at large, through publications, electronic media, news releases, events, success story releases, etc.


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Global reach 36 COST countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The countries in blue are the less-research-intensive COST countries, also known as inclusiveness targeted countries (ITCs).

1 Cooperating State: Israel.

Excellence and inclusiveness policy This policy is tailored to foster scientific excellence throughout Europe by providing cooperation opportunities for researchers and innovators in 20 less-research-intensive countries. They are also known as inclusiveness target countries, which COST helps to connect to knowledge hubs in the European Research Area.

COST Near Neighbour Countries

COST International Partner Countries

Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, The Palestinian Authority, Russia, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Any other country (worldwide) that it is not included in the previous list.

About us


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COST in 2017


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Promoting and spreading excellence beyond Horizon 2020 On 21 June 2017, I started as new President of the COST Association. One of the main goals of this past year has been to prepare the Association for the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9). Together with the COST Committee of Senior Officials we put all our efforts into the development of a new Strategic Plan, which covers the two remaining years of Horizon 2020 and the whole duration of FP9.

Finally, the third priority is to empower and retain the young talent. By participating in a COST network, young researchers and innovators acquire key skills that enable them to broaden their scientific views and make the most of the diversity in Europe. Our ambition is to continue giving the tools to new generations of talented and excellent professionals, which will contribute to keeping European research as one of the world’s most competitive.

Our main reference to build the strategy was the COST FP9 Position Paper. In particular, we looked at the highlights of the document, which underline the importance of interdisciplinary and bottom-up networks as a key tool for bringing together excellent researchers and innovators in Europe. In addition, a special focus is set on the young generations.

One of the specific ways to make these priorities a reality is to expand the number and reach of our networks and add a maximum value to them. As this report shows in the following pages, concrete initiatives such as the COST Academy and the COST Connect have been implemented with this objective. Additionally, we designed cross-cutting activities targeting specific policy priorities. As of FP9, we envisage a COST Innovators Grant to explore innovation potential in our networks.

Three main priorities were established in the Strategic Plan to keep COST as the leading open networking tool in the European Research Area (ERA). The first one is to promote and spread excellence. This means that our networks encourage and welcome the participation of excellent researchers and innovators regardless of their age, gender, nationality, research field or geographical location. By its very nature, COST is an inclusive platform of networks that connect the so-called “pockets of excellence” everywhere in Europe. The second priority is to foster interdisciplinary research. Breakthroughs in science can only happen with sufficient interactions across disciplines and among people from different academic and/or professional backgrounds. More than a half of the COST Actions are of interdisciplinary nature, which is a direct positive outcome of our open and bottom-up application process.

In short, I trust that this strategy will contribute to continue making people and ideas grow, while providing the COST Association the opportunity to spread scientific and technological excellence beyond Horizon 2020.

Professor Dr Sierd Cloetingh President of the COST Association

About us


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COST in 2017


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Giving the COST administration the tools to empower young researchers Over the past year, the COST Association has put in place annual activity plans with well-defined targets to implement the organisation’s new strategy. The most recent activity plan focuses in particular on enhancing the impact of COST in the European Research Area (ERA). We have developed concrete activities committed to adding maximum value to our networks and helping young researchers develop their careers. One such activity is the COST Academy, a new initiative offering training and mentoring to boost the leadership, management, administrative and communications skills of young researchers and/or researchers coming from lessresearch-intensive countries (ITCs). In addition, other measures have been implemented to target early-stage researchers from ITCs. Such measures include the introduction of a conference grant to participate in international conferences, and pre-financing modalities for participants on short-term scientific missions.

In his message, the President, Prof Dr Sierd Cloetingh, clearly describes the COST Strategic Plan for the remainder of Horizon 2020 and the next Framework Programme (FP9). The Plan, launched in December 2017, defines three main priorities, one of which is intended to empower and retain young researchers and innovators. This year’s annual report focuses on this priority. COST has been – and still is – a key funding instrument for those wanting to kick-start their career. It helps individuals to grow their network of contacts by putting them in touch with more experienced professionals and other excellent researchers in a similar position. This fosters brain circulation in Europe and beyond while fighting the brain drain. Building bridges of excellence for young researchers is investing in the future of the ERA. For this reason, COST will continue to concentrate its efforts on providing a springboard for early-career researchers.

As regards our organisational development, we have invited staff members to take the initiative and responsibility towards improving our performance and that of our networks. Together, we have crafted a new mission and vision for the COST administration which underpins our servant-leadership culture, inspiring our employees to become leaders at the service of the Actions. We have agreed that the administration’s main mission is to ensure people and ideas grow through first-class panEuropean networks, while helping COST’s governing body to take well-informed decisions that benefit the research community, our stakeholders and employees alike. Only this can help us to achieve our vision, which is to become the leading European science and technology funding agency offering high customer and employee satisfaction.

Dr Ronald de Bruin Director of the COST Association

About us


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COST in 2017


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Highlights of the year

Highlights of the year


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COST in 2017


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Highlights of the year Two initiatives that are part of the COST Strategic Plan kicked off in 2017: COST Connect and the COST Academy. These are the main highlights of the year.

COST Connect COST Connect is the title of a series of thematic multistakeholder workshops providing an open space for researchers from COST Actions, policymakers and the broader research and innovation (R&I) community to network on scientific or science-policy-related topics. The aim of these events is to provide new funding opportunities for COST Actions by creating new partnerships. Through this initiative, COST is increasing the awareness of European funding and cooperation opportunities. The Connect series offers a very interactive format to stimulate dialogue and active engagement among participants. Its thematic approach allows each session to be built based on stakeholder input. Topics are defined along the lines of the current EU policy agenda and societal challenges. The variety of COST Connect topics which took place throughout 2017 are given below.

Water for Agriculture and Food in the Mediterranean Area – 28 June at the COST premises

An interdisciplinary forum on Next-Generation Internet –1213 September at the COST premises This workshop, which was co-organised by DG CONNECT and the COST Association, is part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative that started in 2016. The NGI wants to develop a more human-centric internet, supporting European values of openness, cooperation across borders, decentralisation, inclusiveness, transparency and protection of privacy. The initiative is targeting Europe’s best brains from academia and hi-tech start-ups and focusing on a human-centric internet that embraces Europe’s needs and values. The highly interactive forum gathered COST Actions, European research projects, funding initiatives and researchers to reflect on the current state of the art, and to identify and provide input on desirable developments in the future of the internet. Internet experts, innovators, interdisciplinary field researchers and end-users were invited to share ideas on the internet of 2030 and how to shape Europe’s role in its development.

The workshop provided an open space for the identification of relevant R&I and policy topics for the Mediterranean area related to smart and sustainable farming, improved land and water sustainability and management, new governance models, reduced pests and pathogens in farming, and innovative solutions in agri-business. In addition, it featured an interesting international cooperation component for the more than 20 COST Actions which attended the workshop: participants from the Mediterranean’s Near Neighbour Countries were actively engaged, bringing together stakeholders from both sides of the Mediterranean. Highlights of the year


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Cultural Heritage in the Digital Era – 25 October at the COST premises

The relevance of impact in R&I policy – what role for networks? – 24 November at the COST premises

Cultural heritage has recently witnessed amazing breakthroughs, thanks to a faster pace in technological evolution and new digital technologies being used in many local, national, European and international initiatives.

The measurement of impact is a ‘hot topic’ in European R&I policies. European-funded research projects and programmes are increasingly being asked to define and measure their impact, in both ex-ante and ex-post assessments. To a large extent, the way impact is defined and measured – and which data is used to do this – defines whether people, research projects, journals and institutes are seen as successful. Impact measurement will also play a crucial role in discussions on the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9). As stated by Carlos Moedas in October 2016: “impact should be a key value in FP9” and a more “sophisticated approach on impact is needed”.

The ambition of the workshop was to narrow the societal gap in an area of particular interest for society by discovering, protecting and preserving cultural heritage to provide better knowledge of our past and for the benefit of our future generations. The aim of the event was twofold: to reduce duplicate research activities and to combat fragmentation of the sector by encouraging cooperation among stakeholders and communicating success stories to the relevant end-users. COST supports various Actions in this area and provides an unparalleled framework for collaboration, contributing to consolidating these European partnerships, also in light of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.

During this COST Connect event, COST and representatives of COST Actions contributed to this discussion by encouraging several stakeholders to work together on the question of what the role and definition of impact is in R&I policies. The aim was to determine a more diverse and inclusive interpretation of impact.

Connect workshops planned for 20181   Q uantum: Where will the next jump go? – 8 March, Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, Poland   How to Shape a Sustainable Urban Mobility for all – 25-26 April 2018 in Bucharest, Romania   Climate Change and Forest Systems – 5 June in Sofia, Bulgaria 1. Please keep in mind that the list only includes the workshops planned up to the production date of this report. For new updates see: http://www.cost.eu/events?event-type=15

COST in 2017


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What do participants think of COST Connect?

We have visited countries and made contact with experts who we would otherwise never come across. We established powerful relationships between different people and different spheres of our work. It is very important for us as experts in our fields of research and also for our country as a whole.

Dr Milica Tapavički-Ilić, Senior research associate, Institute of Archaeology, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Serbia COST Action: Archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment

COST has once again proved that it is an overall inclusive organisation: in the sense of gender, age and representing country. As a representative of all three inclusiveness pillars (woman, earlycareer researcher and from an inclusiveness country) I am happy to participate in these activities which fuel me with productive energy and make me want to work more and better.

Dr Ana Rotter, Scientific Associate, National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station, Slovenia COST Action: Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems in Europe

COST Connect is an excellent way of getting together in the same room all the links needed to transform new knowledge into positive societal challenges, speeding up the process. Being there allowed me to see that we, the scientists, can have a say in political decisions that can make the world better.

Dr Antonio J. Meléndez Martínez, Lab. Colour and Quality of Food (Nutrition and Bromatology Section), Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sevilla, Spain COST Action : European network to advance carotenoid research and applications in agro-food and health (EUROCAROTEN)

Highlights of the year


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Through COST Connect I confronted my experience in developing an interdisciplinary, intersectoral community of experts with other colleagues having the same challenge in different contexts. It was amazing to realise that by simply connecting experiences you understand that we all are deeply connected by challenges, ideas and contexts.

Prof Flaminio Squazzoni, Associate Professor of Economic Sociology, Department of Economics and Management, University of Brescia, Italy COST Action: New Frontiers of Peer Review (PEERE)

I appreciate COST activities as they allow me to speed up connecting with people from new disciplines that international projects throw me into.

Dr Johannes Klinglmayr, Strategy and Business Development, Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH, Austria

It was one of the most successful events attended in Brussels. It was very well organised and focused on the current challenges existing in the area of digital heritage documentation. You managed to bring together, to network and brainstorm with the key players on current digital heritage activities. Therefore I would say: Is it smart, simple, successful and memorable, then it’s a ‘COST’ in action!

Dr Marinos Ioannides, Cyprus University of Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Informatics, Digital Heritage Research Laboratory, Cyprus and health (EUROCAROTEN)

COST in 2017


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COST Academy The COST Academy is a capacity-building initiative that offers training and mentoring to boost the leadership, management, administrative and communications skills of young researches and/or researchers affiliated to institutions in less-research-intensive countries. The different types of training developed to date are explained below. The leadership workshops give participants a ‘best practice’ training approach provided by the COST administration and experienced Action leaders. They are targeted at COST Action secondary proposers (either young researchers or researchers from less-research-intensive countries) who are potential candidates for leadership positions. These workshops are organised between the Action main proposer workshop and the first management committee meeting. During 2017, two leadership workshops took place at the COST premises.

The grant holder workshops provide hands-on training on e-COST for grant holders elected during the Action’s first management committee meeting. They help grant holders learn about the practicalities of the administrative and financial rules for managing COST Actions. During 2017, eight grant holder workshops took place at the COST premises.

Science communication and media training provide practical training targeted at participants entrusted with the dissemination and communication in their Action. Participants learn how to draw up a successful communication strategy, define messages, approach the media, and handle digital tools to get the message across, among other techniques. By the end of April 2018, six different training sessions will have taken place.

The main proposers’ workshops allow the COST administration to present the organisation, the rules, and essential working tools and platforms such as e-COST to the main proposers of approved COST Action proposals. In addition, they give the COST administration the possibility to meet future Action chairs.

New training and mentoring schemes are planned to cover COST Action participants’ needs. Highlights of the year


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What do participants think of the COST Academy?

The leadership meeting helped me to get another view – which is not a hierarchical way – on how to connect people and motivate them to think and work together. It encouraged me to try to lead research activities even if I am not the classic ‘leader’.

Dr Brigitta Tóth, Senior soil scientist at Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary COST Action: Harmonization of UAS techniques for agricultural and natural ecosystems monitoring

The COST Academy helped me understand what COST is all about – open networking!

Dr Niklas Gericke, Professor in the Department of Environmental and Life Sciences Karlstad University, Sweden COST Action: European Network for Environmental Citizenship (ENEC)

The COST leadership workshop motivated me to engage in a leadership position within my COST Action ENEC (European Network for Environmental Citizenship). To me, the role of working group leader is a golden opportunity to network and practise my leadership skills in a highly international context. I especially appreciate the concept of servant leadership that is put forward by COST and which all the people in ENEC leadership positions have endorsed. Our COST Action has a huge management committee and, as such, all members of the steering committee need to walk the same line when it comes to our approach to leadership. I am thankful to be able to collaborate with other more experienced people in leadership positions, and even though our Action is still young, I feel I have already learned a lot and developed as leader and communicator within the European research landscape.

Dr Jelle Boeve-de Pauw, Postdoc project manager at the University of Antwerp Department of Training and Education Sciences, Belgium COST Action: European Network for Environmental Citizenship (ENEC)

COST in 2017


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“

The COST Academy leadership course was a refreshing experience, even philosophical, bringing to the table not what you would conventionally expect but definitely what you need to hear to learn about good leadership.

�

Dr Igor Eulaers, Postdoctoral researcher at Aarhus University, Denmark COST Action: European Raptor Biomonitoring Facility

Highlights of the year


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COST in 2017


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Key figures of 2017

Key figures of 2017


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Key figures of 2017 233

339

Training schools

Running Actions

2,339

45,000 Researchers involved in COST Actions

Short-term scientific missions

1

COST in 2017

€134,000 Average annual budget of a COST Action

7

€300 million COST budget (from Horizon 2020 for a 7 year period)


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Less research-intensive COST Countries (ITCs) representation in the Action’s management committee* 2013 50,33%

Year after year, COST puts more efforts to increase the number of researchers from ITCs in its networks.

+12,77%

2017 63,10%

Early career investigators in COST proposals

17772 proposers

17079 proposers

9364 proposers 4275 ECI proposers

3927 ECI proposers

2230 ECI proposers

2015

2016

2017

These bars show the number of proposers per collection date

*The management committee is the Action’s decision making body

Key figures of 2017


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Participation in COST Actions by country and gender Male

Female

Total

Austria Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France fYR Macedonia Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Israel Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Montenegro Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Sweden Spain Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom 0

COST in 2017

200

400

600

800


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Participation in COST activities by age and gender in COST Countries Less research-intensive COST Countries 1200 Female 1000

Male

800 600 400 200

61-65

56-60

51-55

46-50

41-45

36-40

31-35

26-30

21-25

0

Research-intensive COST Countries 2500 Female Male

2000

1500

1000

61-65

56-60

51-55

46-50

41-45

36-40

31-35

21-25

0

26-30

500

Participation of early career investigators in networking activities

5514

1027

698

Meetings

Training schools

Short-term scientific missions Key figures of 2017


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Participation in networking activities of early career investigators in COST Countries Country of destination >500

Portugal Belgium Italy

754 694 561 200 – 499

Spain Germany France Czech Republic The United Kingdom Poland Greece The Netherlands Croatia Slovenia

487 440

100 – 199

Ireland 168 Malta 158 Sweden 145 Austria 143 Hungary 133 Serbia 113 Cyprus 105

388

0 – 99

308 289 272 248 243 208 208

Israel Denmark Finland Bulgaria Romania Switzerland

Countries where networking happens

COST in 2017

94 86 84 82 81 73

Lithuania Bosnia and Herzegovina Estonia fYR Macedonia Slovakia Norway Luxembourg Latvia Iceland Montenegro Turkey

73 73 55 47 46 44 37 27 20 8 0


29 Country of affiliation >300

Italy The United Kingdom Germany Portugal Spain Serbia

498 490 472 406 382 343 200 – 299

Poland France Switzerland Croatia

299 295 236 233

100 – 199

Belgium Romania The Netherlands Czech Republic Ireland Sweden fYR Macedonia Slovenia Austria Turkey Norway Israel Denmark Bosnia and Herzegovina

199 199 196 182

Hungary Finland Greece Lithuania Slovakia

123 118 115 112 112

180 0 – 99

175 160 159 146 136 133 127 124 123

Estonia Bulgaria Cyprus Latvia Malta Iceland Montenegro Luxembourg

97 91 89 78 77 41 30 22

Country of the institution each participant belongs to

Key figures of 2017


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Success rate of interdisciplinary proposals

12

9,9%

10 8,7%

10,2%

8,5%

8

6,1%

6

Success rate

4

2

0 Low

Lower than average

Average

Higher than average

Interdisciplinary proposals rate

COST gives as many chances to interdisciplinary proposals as to any other proposal.

COST in 2017

High


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Empowering young researchers Stories of success

Empowering young researchers - Stories of success


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The Action has put Europe on the map – when we first started, most of the research was coming from Japan and the US. We focused on combining communications with wireless power transmission – now many groups across Europe are working on this.

Prof Nuno Borges Carvalho, Full Professor and Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Telecommunications, University of Aveiro and an IEEE Fellow, Portugal COST in 2017


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Powering up for the Internet of Things For researcher Chiara Mariotti, being part of a network on developing wireless power transfer systems led to grants for international exchanges and recognition through the 2016 Women in Wireless Power Transfer Award. Wireless power transfer (WPT) systems can remotely power up mobile devices or charge batteries in everyday household objects such as TV remote controllers, alarm sensors and smoke detectors, for example. Such systems can contribute to the successful evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), which involves the massive deployment of wireless sensors connecting a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics. The focus of the COST Action ‘Wireless Power Transmission for Sustainable Electronics’ (WIPE) was on efficient WPT circuits, systems and strategies for battery-free systems. Empowering women in science Mariotti was a PhD candidate at the University of Perugia in Italy when the Action began and her research group participated. She says: “I was really excited by the fact that we were looking for very innovative solutions for the Internet of Things development by proposing unconventional materials for electronics and unconventional design approaches.” Mariotti’s PhD research topic focused on the development and demonstration of additive manufacturing technologies for radio-frequency applications. Given the overlap with the focus of the COST Action, she was motivated to apply for a short-term scientific mission under the network. “I got the grant to spend six weeks at Portugal’s University of Aveiro, in October 2014,” the 30-year-old explains. “Then, in 2015, I won another grant for a short-term scientific mission to spend two months at Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA. Moreover, I applied for the ‘Women in Wireless Power Transfer’ in 2016 and was the recipient of the grant. This meant I was funded to participate in the Wireless Power Transfer Conference in Aveiro in 2016.” The Women in Wireless Power Transfer initiative was proposed by the COST Action to support young female researchers in emerging technology research fields. View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ict/IC1301

In February 2016, Mariotti was awarded her PhD and is now working as a radio-frequency design and concept engineer at Infineon Technologies Austria in Villach. “Overall, the COST Action was a very positive experience, and an opportunity that definitely helped me in my career,” she says. Making connections Professor Nuno Carvalho, Chair of the Action, understandably upbeat about the team’s achievements.

is

“The Action has put Europe on the map – when we first started, most of the research was coming from Japan and the US,” he says. “We focused on combining communications with wireless power transmission – now many groups across Europe are working on this.” The Action also made an important contribution to regulatory standards. Carvalho explains that researchers participating in the Action teamed up with Japanese counterparts to prove the case for using a dedicated charging frequency of 5.8 GHz for WPT. This advice was taken on-board by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency for coordinating ICT issues globally. For Carvalho, the most rewarding part is the networking opportunities that the network provided: “The best thing is the people – when we brainstorm with others who have different backgrounds and different points of view, we can create new ideas together.” He adds: “Here in Portugal, we estimate that we buy 20 million batteries every year just for TV remote controllers. Now imagine that you can recharge remotely – and get rid of the batteries.”

View the network website:  www.cost-ic1301.org

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We got very good ideas from the Action. What we achieved in several three-day meetings was better than from months of sending emails.

Liviu Gabriel Pârâu, Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Heidelberg University, PhD researcher in avian genomics, M.Sc. Animal personality

COST in 2017


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Parrot network kick-starts a career Liviu Pârâu has always been fascinated by birds. A COST Action gave him the chance to build a career from his passion and find out why small parrots – parakeets – have successfully colonised Europe. Master’s graduate Pârâu was looking for a PhD position to study bird evolution when he heard about the COST Action ‘European network on invasive parakeets: Understanding invasion dynamics and risks to agriculture and society’ – ParrotNet for short. He learned about the project from Dutch participant, Sjouke Kingma, while working for him in Croatia on a short-term research assignment. He did not hesitate to sign up. “Birds are my greatest passion,” he says. “I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with and learn from experts in the field”. At the age of 25, the Romanian researcher joined ParrotNet in 2014. For the next four years he worked with over 50 researchers to find how parakeets came to live in the wild in Europe, and whether their rapid growth in numbers is a threat to native species and agriculture. Pârâu contributed to regular meetings to shape the COST Action, took part in short-term research missions for the project and co-wrote scientific papers with over 20 other ParrotNet participants. His first publication as lead author, an essential part of a scientist’s CV, was one of these papers. “I received a lot of support,” he says. “The contact with experienced researchers propelled my skills forward.” A win-win A cornerstone of his participation was an active role in mapping the European populations of four of the invasive species that ParrotNet studied, a scientific first, Pârâu says. Detailed results are now being published in various scientific journals. He also helped the COST network choose an objective, standard approach for assessing the species’ impact on native species and agriculture.

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/essem/ES1304

Against common expectations, the researchers found that these parrots do not compete with native birds. “They have found an empty ecological niche,” Pârâu explains. EU policymakers could use the evidence to best target funds to limit the impact of parakeets on local environments, he suggests. Furthermore, ParrotNet’s approach to studying invasive species could help scientists understand the potential threat from introduced flora and fauna in Europe and worldwide. “The results are openly available for researchers, other stakeholders and policymakers through the ParrotNet website, making it a win-win for all,” says Pârâu. Engage for opportunity He credits the regular COST meetings with the quality of the outcomes. “We got very good ideas from the Action. What we achieved in several three-day meetings was better than from months of sending emails.” The collaboration also led to the career step he wanted – a chance to start his PhD. In March 2016, his host for one of the research missions offered him a doctorate student position at Heidelberg University in Germany. Pârâu is now a strong advocate for COST Actions, especially among young researchers. “ParrotNet kick-started my career. I want more people at my career stage to get involved with COST.” “COST greatly shaped my vision as a young researcher,” concludes Pârâu “It is the foundation of my professional network. I hope the collaboration will continue for many years.” Since the end of ParrotNet in 2017, participants have continued to work together finalising joint publications about its results and seeking funding to support new doctoral students.

View the network website:  https://www.kent.ac.uk/parrotnet/ Empowering young researchers - Stories of success


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It was crucial how COST valued the knowledge of sex workers and activists. It advanced knowledge and made their voices heard.

Dr PG Macioti, Postdoctoral Researcher, Kingston University London, UK, PhD Politics and international studies, M.A. Gender, sexualities and ethnic studies

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/isch/IS1209 COST in 2017

View the network website:  http://prospol.eu/is1209/


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Speaking up for prostitution research Prostitution prompts strong, often diverging views. Yet the research discipline that could inform policy is fragmented and marginalised. Social scientist Isabel Crowhurst saw the advantages forming a COST Action could provide by bringing evidence to the debate and creating opportunities for young researchers like Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and PG Macioti. How can we improve our understanding of commercial sex? How can policies on prostitution be better defined? Isabel Crowhurst, a lecturer at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, co-founded the COST Action ‘Comparing European prostitution policies: Understanding scales and cultures of governance’ (ProsPol) to address these questions. The ProsPol network brought together researchers and sexwork activists to share knowledge and experience. Among its achievements were ground-breaking conferences, public debates, including in countries that usually marginalise the topic, such as Slovenia or Portugal, and innovative research evidence. The Action emerged from a three-day European Science Foundation workshop which Crowhurst had organised on prostitution policy in Europe. “We wanted to explore this more,” she says. With just a six-year postdoctoral career, she and other collaborators looked to COST to build a network that could support research. “Prostitution and sex-work studies are an expanding field but are still stigmatised in research,” she says. The polarisation of views on regulation adds to the challenge. “The COST structure facilitated dialogue. It is a unique instrument,” she adds. Wider engagement was central to ProsPol’s success. The Action’s meetings included politicians, the media, sex workers and representatives of justice systems, while keynote addresses were open to the public. Crowhurst cites a meeting in Slovenia as a good example of constructive dialogue. ProsPol also held some of the first international academic conferences on sex work and produced the first crossdisciplinary series of research books on the topic . One study includes a valuable mapping of prostitution policies in Europe1.

“There were many new connections and collaborations,” she continues. “This Action made a relatively isolated aspect of social research in Europe part of the field’s bigger picture and community.” Raising profiles On a personal level, the Action, which ran from 2013 to 2017, was a success for many participants. “Being chair just six years after my PhD helped my career,” says Crowhurst. “I grew tremendously, both in research and in management skills.” Almost half the participants were early-career researchers. They included Giulia Garofalo Geymonat, a sex-work researcher since 2000, and PG Macioti who, following her doctorate, was working with an NGO on sex workers’ rights. They developed a close working partnership. From one project in the COST Action, they co-authored a book, ‘Sex Workers Speak’2 – “one of our most important outputs,” says Crowhurst. Another on mental health services has led to an extended joint project. Finally, they co-wrote an article for a special issue of ‘Sociological Research Online’3. Garofalo Geymonat also co-edited the issue, a new responsibility for her. “ProsPol was really transformative,” adds Garofalo Geymonat. “It gave us a sense of community.” Meanwhile, Macioti is back in research “thanks to COST”. “It was crucial how COST valued the knowledge of sex workers and activists. It advanced knowledge and made their voices heard,” she says. Collaborations continue, says Crowhurst, adding: “This Action was about the complexity and experience of prostitution. We can do more to raise awareness of evidence on the issues.”

1.  https://www.routledge.com/Interdisciplinary-Studies-in-Sex-for-Sale/book-series/ISSS 2. https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyond-slavery-themes/sex-workers-speak 3. http://www.socresonline.org.uk/21/4/9.html

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When we first started, we had to work on building a trust relationship with colleagues from many backgrounds and countries. As young researchers, we were not so experienced and had to learn how to prove ourselves while doing the best work we could.

Dr Raquel Conceição, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal, PhD Electrical and Electronic Engineering, M.Eng. Biomedical Engineering COST in 2017


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Surfing microwaves to success When they noticed a bottleneck in bringing potentially life-saving medical microwave imaging (MWI) products to patients, researchers Raquel Conceição and Martin O’Halloran did not think twice about teaming up. What followed was impressive. At barely 28 years old, Conceição became the youngest COST Action Chair ever, uniting the European MWI community with Vice-Chair Martin O’Halloran who was just 31 when he took up his post.

Their efforts paid off. The COST network expanded from 72 participants in 2013 to 255 in 2017, along with greater cooperation and more efforts to move MWI technology out of the lab.

MWI is a cost-effective and non-invasive technology with much potential.

A large number of MWI devices are currently undergoing clinical trials, with the possibility of some market launches within three to five years.

For example, unlike the current standard of care for breast cancer – X-ray mammography – MWI does not require breast compression, uses non-ionising radiation and has shown significantly better detection rates for tumours in dense tissue. But what struck both Conceição and O’Halloran was a lack of collaboration in the field and difficulties with testing promising developments on people. To bridge this lab-to-clinic divide, they successfully launched a COST Action, propelling their personal careers and mastering age-related challenges. “When we first started, we had to work on building a trust relationship with colleagues from many backgrounds and countries. As young researchers, we were not so experienced and had to learn how to prove ourselves while doing the best work we could,” Conceição explains. Together at the helm of the ‘Development of a Europeanbased Collaborative Network to Accelerate Technological, Clinical and Commercialisation Progress in the Area of Medical Microwave Imaging’, they focused on training participants in clinical trials, as well as on how best to secure investment to launch products.

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/bmbs/TD1301

From postdoc to assistant professor Now 33, Conceição is an assistant professor at the University of Lisbon. “I believe that COST Action on my CV helped me find a permanent position in Portugal at a difficult time,” she says, adding that COST also shifted her research focus. The Portuguese national is now concentrating on using MWI technology to detect metastasised lymph nodes in the underarm region. O’Halloran, too, credits the COST Programme with professional advancement. “COST has hugely shaped my career,” says the now 36-yearold senior lecturer in medical electronics at the National University of Ireland Galway. “COST Action gives you a window into best practice,” adds the Irishman, who has secured a European Research Council grant and also runs a lab that helps start-ups develop technology to improve patient care. “That’s exactly what it did for us, as well as helping us to establish a really strong network of collaborators.”

View the network website:  http://cost-action-td1301.org

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“

Before you can get the right answers you need to ask the right questions and for that it is necessary to have a great knowledge in the field, intuition, open mind and love for the subject.

�

Nikola Vukovic, Teaching assistant and PhD student, University of Belgrade, Serbia, M.Eng. Electrical Engineering COST in 2017


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Getting under the skin Using optical imaging could improve the diagnosis of skin cancer, without the need for a biopsy. For Nikola Vukovic, a PhD student at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, involvement in a COST Action on skin cancer detection using laser imaging has been “extremely valuable” and enabled him to continue his research in his native Serbia. Early detection and accurate diagnosis of skin cancer is very important for a good prognosis and appropriate treatment. Current standard diagnosis is based on a biopsy and histopathologic examination, an invasive method which depends on the doctor’s experience for its accuracy, and causes some discomfort to the patient. With support from COST, electrical engineer Nikola Vukovic is focusing on developing optical imaging methodologies to better diagnose a variety of skin conditions. The optical methods offer real advantages – they are cheaper, noninvasive, portable, and can provide quick feedback. Noninvasive imaging technologies are particularly useful for skin disease diagnostic and monitoring, including skin cancer detection. Since he started working towards his PhD in applied physics in 2014, Nikola has collaborated on the COST Action ‘European Network for Skin Cancer Detection using Laser Imaging’. As well as enhancing interaction and research activities in the field of optical biosensing, the network aimed to develop new laser optical methods in the mid-infra-red and terahertz part of the spectrum, to complement existing non-invasive skin-screening, such as dermoscopy, confocal microscopy and hyperspectral imaging. Nikola was also active as a trainee in several training sessions and workshops for young researchers organised by the network. “Based on these results and the international research collaborations which followed, I am not only completing my PhD thesis successfully, but I have also recently gained an academic position as a teaching assistant at the School of Electrical Engineering in the University of Belgrade,” he explains, enabling him to continue his research in his native country.

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/bmbs/BM1205

Teaming up During the COST Action, strong collaborations developed, especially between Nikola’s group at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and the Action partner group headed by Dr Dmitri Boiko at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), in Switzerland. Nikola explains: “Twice in 2015 and once in 2017, I spent a month at CSEM where Dr Boiko was my host. My research work required 10 to 15 meetings in person during the month, so the visits were highly valuable.” The dividends are evident in the several research papers Nikola has published jointly with Dr Boiko in leading peerreviewed international journals. In addition, Nikola was involved in a successful international joint grant application by three of the COST Action’s partners, for the Fast IQ project which was awarded funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation. Overcoming obstacles Nikola has collaborated with Professor Dragan Indjin, Chair of the Action, and has met many new colleagues during the workshops and training sessions in a network which continues to inspire his work. “My main motivation is to have a sense that I am making some progress, however small, on a daily basis towards my current goal, that I have learned a new interesting thing or that I have overcome an obstacle which seemed huge at the beginning,” concludes Nikola.

View the network website:  https://skin-laser-imaging.org/

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Achieving outcomes from this kind of research is typically a very long process, but thanks to this networking, we are able to produce biomaterials faster than usual.

Dr Vida Čadež, Research assistant, Division of Physical Chemistry, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia , PhD Molecular biosciences, M.Sc. Mariculture

COST in 2017


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Stronger together in bone materials research A COST Action to develop innovative materials to regenerate damaged bones promises better quality of life for elderly people. And it has helped postdoctoral scientist Vida Čadež take big steps towards her first permanent research position. As populations age, there is a growing need for medical products that bond with bone in procedures such as hip replacements, spinal repairs and bone reconstructions. The COST Action ‘New Generation Biomimetic and Customized Implants for Bone Engineering’ (NEWGEN) brought together around 150 academic laboratories, research and development centres, medical units and companies to address the issue. Partners came from Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia, with almost half in the private sector. Sharing resources, they developed materials, manufacturing methods, implants and partnerships that could lead to life-enhancing treatments. According to Čadež, biomaterials are becoming more important and COST’s specialist networking accelerated progress. NEWGEN networking has also resulted in six research projects being funded by the EU. “Achieving outcomes from this kind of research is typically a very long process, but thanks to this networking, we are able to produce biomaterials faster than usual,” she says. Career catalyst Čadež was part of a team from the Ruđer Bošković Institute in her home country, Croatia. The 34-year-old biomaterials scientist contributed to specialist meetings and research, while in return NEWGEN enhanced her professional prospects. The catalyst was a three-month placement to develop innovative hydrogels and other biomaterials at Tomas Bata University in the Czech Republic. “I had time to do some serious work,” she says. “I learned new methods and extended my PhD research on biomineralisation of marine organisms into areas for possible biomaterial implants.”

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/mpns/MP1301

The placement also brought Čadež closer to meeting her institute’s requirements for joining its permanent staff – one year abroad, nine publications and conference experience. She has presented papers on her results at three conferences, including the international MCM 2017 conference, and will publish these three papers in scientific journals. “These are big steps forward and are thanks to COST,” she says. “It has made me optimistic about my future.” Wider horizons What makes the achievement more remarkable is that Čadež only took part in NEWGEN in its last year, 2017. Despite her short time with the project, she says that the COST Action is one of the best projects she has been involved in during her nine-year career. In particular, she was impressed by the research missions. “These are a good opportunity for young researchers to see if working abroad is for them and to experience different approaches,” Čadež explains, adding that she also found the specialist COST meetings helpful. “My field is very specific. At most conferences, people don’t always understand what I do, but in COST meetings I could share data and ask for advice.” She now has a close network of about 10 professional contacts from her research placement and the COST core group in Belgium. In addition, she met many other people from across Europe – too many to count, she says – and would like to work with them again. “Everybody was very happy with the COST Action. We will stay in touch,” she confirms. “Money is not the only important thing in research. People and a willingness to connect also matter. Networking broadens our thinking and our way of working.”

View the network website:  http://www.cost-newgen.org/ Empowering young researchers - Stories of success


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I went from working on a national project with three instruments to working on a European project with hundreds. The new scale was thanks to COST.

Dr Maxime Hervo, E-PROFILE Network Manager, Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Switzerland, PhD atmospheric physics, M.Sc. Physics and chemistry of atmosphere and climate View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/essem/ES1303 COST in 2017

View the network website:  http://www.toprof.imaa.cnr.it/


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New heights for cloud researcher’s career Thanks to a chance mission, Swiss postdoctoral scientist Maxime Hervo joined a COST Action to link up ground-based atmosphere observation equipment. Substituting his department director in a management meeting introduced him to contacts who took his career to a European level. The COST Action TOPROF helped weather services, researchers and equipment manufacturers network and exploit instruments across Europe that measure clouds and aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Every airport is equipped with a ceilometer, a small laser that measures cloud base. TOPROF found that it can also detect air-borne aerosol particles which could harm health. The network developed common standards for the instruments, allowing airports and research organisations to share their data with national weather services in real time to better forecast weather and pollution risks. Hervo was setting up weather-sensing equipment at the University of Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies in Ireland in 2013, when the Action started. He was chosen to stand in for his director, Professor Colin O’Dowd, at a TOPROF management meeting in 2014. The 26-year-old climate scientist so impressed a participant from MeteoSwiss, Switzerland’s national weather service, that later that year he joined the service as a network manager. His new role was to link up instruments for E-PROFILE, a programme coordinating measurements across Europe run by EUMETNET, an organisation of 31 European national meteorological services. “I went from working on a national project with three instruments to working on a European project with hundreds,” says Hervo. “The new scale was thanks to COST.” Hervo continued to be active in TOPROF meetings until the Action ended in 2017. He also took part in three short-term scientific missions. “These make a big difference to the research and your progress,” says Hervo. “You deal with top people in the field.”

Science synergies Other science-boosting synergies emerged from TOPROF (Towards operational ground based profiling with ceilometers, doppler LIDARs and microwave radiometers for improving weather forecasts). When the Action began, four groups – in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the UK – were working on how to link up these three kinds of instrument, says Hervo. “They could all collaborate through COST.” Ultimately, researchers from 22 countries, including from 17 national meteorological services, joined TOPROF, as did EUNETMET. Together, they created a network of over 1000 instruments covering the whole of Europe. Professor Anthony Illingworth, TOPROF’s chair, explains the scientific value of this ground-based network: “They give us a real-time profile of clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere that is now sent to all weather forecasting centres.” The networked data is also cost-efficient. “This is free data that was not being used before,” adds Illingworth. “COST helps organisations make the most of their investment in instruments and research.” TOPROF’s results are now being put to a practical test. Fog forecasting from the networked data is being trialled at airports in Paris, Munich and Vienna to help airlines avoid delays. Meanwhile, the collaboration which began in TOPROF continues. Two EU-funded research projects have resulted from the Action networking, while Hervo and other participants are finalising a publication on their instruments. And to build on their success, they are preparing a proposal for a follow-up COST Action.

Overall, he worked closely with about 15 other scientists and met over 50 throughout the network. “It was a good experience, with open supportive exchanges. I would certainly recommend it to other researchers,” he adds.

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COST helped me get a more global view of the field, including from the perspective of regulators and patient organisations. It gave me the ability to look beyond my niche.

Professor Dr Annemieke Aartsma-Rus, Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands, PhD Human Genetics, M.Sc. Biomedical Sciences View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/bmbs/BM1207 COST in 2017

View the network website:  http://exonskipping.eu/


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A faster track to genetic therapy An opportunity to speed up development of potentially life-saving therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other rare diseases put early-stage researcher Annemieke Aartsma-Rus at the head of a COST network. The successful collaboration she led could be a model for developing similar treatments. As a PhD student, Aartsma-Rus pioneered a form of a genetic therapy that could improve the lives of people with rare genetic diseases caused by faulty protein production. Just six years later, she set up and chaired a COST Action to drive the treatment towards clinical use. The therapy is known as exon skipping. It uses specially engineered molecules – antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) – to hide incorrect DNA instructions – exons – for proteins so that cells can ‘skip over’ to the next instruction. The patient then produces a shorter but still functioning form of a missing protein, which reduces symptoms. Aartsma-Rus realised networking was crucial to bringing the treatment closer to patients, and felt it could put her career on fast forward. She founded the ‘Networking towards clinical application of antisense-mediated exon skipping’ COST Action to promote collaboration between researchers, regulators, drug companies and patient groups. The network focused on overcoming roadblocks to a possible treatment for rare diseases, using as a showcase Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle-weakening disease that can prove fatal at a young age. ‘Can-do’ collaboration According to Aartsma-Rus, more experienced scientists in the COST Action welcomed her taking this lead: “People established in their research careers are busy, so there is a need for others to pitch in.” Over four years, the COST network grew from 29 participants from different stakeholder groups to 119 from 18 countries. “Everyone could learn from everyone else,” says AartsmaRus. The Action’s working groups contributed to standard methods to quantify dystrophin protein in muscles, regulatory guidelines for Duchenne therapy development,

networking to streamline European research, and more transparent communication between scientists and patients. One participant was Virginia Arechavala-Gomeza, a postdoctoral researcher who, after several years in the United Kingdom, was moving back to her native Spain to start her own lab. “I was concerned that I would be isolated. COST provided me with a new network that lasted beyond the Action, and my international networking experience later helped me secure renewal as head of my department.” The Action also gave her an opportunity to build leadership skills by coordinating research in one of the working groups. “COST makes it easy for scientists to contribute at any level. If you are willing, you can do it,” she says. Networking power Aarstma-Rus attributes much of the COST Action’s success to its supportive, open approach. “This could be applied to the development of any drug, especially for rare diseases,” she says, adding that Action members are now collaborating in new ways. Recognition followed when, in 2014, Aartsma-Rus was appointed to the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences’ junior section, a select group of “the best 50” Dutch scholars below 45. “COST helped me get a more global view of the field, including from the perspective of regulators and patient organisations. It gave me the ability to look beyond my niche, which is a quality the Academy looks for.” In 2015, she also became professor of translational genetics at Leiden University Medical Center. “The network enabled me to organise high-level meetings and papers, which influenced my appointment.”

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COST presented me to the world. I met all the experimentalists and theoreticians with whom I did my most impactful works, landing papers in Science, Nature and Nature Communications.

Dr Luca Argenti, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida, USA, PhD Chemistry, Laurea (Master’s) Chemistry

COST in 2017


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Bright new light in molecular physics Participation in a COST Action to develop new ways to control chemical reactions transformed the career of postdoctoral researcher Luca Argenti. He was part of a COST network that was a ‘virtual institute’ of worldwide experts in his field, leading to an assistant professorship in the USA. Argenti joined the ‘XUV/X-ray light and fast ions for ultrafast chemistry’ (XLIC) Action from its start in 2013, as a 36-yearold researcher in a team from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. “The Action was needed to coordinate European scientists to find possible applications for novel light sources and particle accelerators,” he says. XLIC created a network of experts in ionisation and laser physics from 150 groups in Europe, the USA, Australia and Ukraine. Together, they developed theories, research techniques and computer programs that can help scientists better understand and control how molecules interact with x-ray light waves or with high-energy ions – molecules with an electric charge. The results were impressive. The network produced 111 scientific publications based on its work, 46 in world-class journals such as Science and Nature. The Action also funded 122 short-term research placements. COST meetings and this unusually high number of placements helped develop results more quickly, says Argenti. “XLIC made it possible to create a ‘virtual institute’ which could pursue research that is difficult in normal settings.” Having had experience of an earlier COST network, Chemistry with Ultrashort Pulses and Free-Electron Lasers: Looking for Control Strategies Through “Exact” Computations (CUSPFEL), he feels that much of the Action’s success was because of its culture. “You had a committed, open network of some of the most respected groups and talented people in Europe” he says. “At a conference, you meet other researchers for one hour. In COST, you know that partners will attend the next meeting and follow up on plans. That makes the collaboration much more robust.”

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/cmst/CM1204

Global exposure Argenti’s commitment to the Action led to personal success. He took part in many of XLIC’s meetings and two short-term research placements, both with future close collaborators – professors Eva Lindroth in Stockholm and Joachim Burgdörfer in Vienna. He also organised the second part of the first XLIC training school. “This was a great opportunity to be known by top research contributors and a new generation of future researchers,” he says. He adds: “COST presented me to the world. I met all the experimentalists and theoreticians with whom I did my most impactful works, landing papers in Science, Nature and Nature Communications.” The contacts led to a major career step. In 2016, he became an assistant professor in the University of Central Florida, where he is now creating his own research group. “This was thanks to the COST Action,” he says. In the same year, he received a USD 283 000 grant from the US government’s National Science Foundation for a project based on his work with Lindroth. Although he is now in the USA, he still has close ties with XLIC colleagues and is hosting a student from Burgdörfer’s group for a few months in 2018. He would also like to be involved in future COST Actions. “COST takes researchers out of seclusion and gives real meaning to ‘synergy’. It is a good incubator for long-term projects with a high impact,” he concludes.

View the network website:  http://www.xlic.eu/

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PARSEME COST Action is one of the best things that happened to me in my academic career.

Dr Carla Parra Escartín, Marie SkłodowskaCurie Fellow, Dublin City University

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‘Count me in’ to parse multi-word expressions Natural language processing software, used for automated translations, speech recognition and more complex computer-human interactions, are challenged by multiword expressions: sequences of words with unpredictable properties, like “counting somebody in” or “to take a haircut”. Dr Carla Parra Escartín joined a COST Action to help tackle this challenge. “I consider myself truly fortunate because I have the gift of working in a field that has real applications that are used by thousands of people every day,” Carla says. Her interest in the field stems from her background in translation and computational linguistics. Before starting her research career, she worked as a professional translator, mostly between German and Spanish. “A challenge that I encountered multiple times daily was the translation of German nominal compounds,” she says. “I always found it fascinating how many different ways there were of translating them into Spanish and how tricky it was.” At the University of Bergen, Norway, Carla’s PhD topic explored the translation of those nominal compounds into Spanish from a computational linguistics point of view. Her supervisor advised her to join the COST Action ‘Parsing and Multi-word Expressions’ (PARSEME), an interdisciplinary scientific network devoted to parsing and other areas where multi-word expressions (MWEs) present a challenge. As compound words are one type of MWE, it was an obvious fit. “PARSEME COST Action is one of the best things that happened to me in my academic career,” says Carla. Great opportunity Carla became co-vice leader of one of the network’s working groups. Upon conferral of her PhD, she relocated to Spain and became a national project representative.

other junior and senior members and gain very valuable additional experience”. During autumn 2015, the Action team prepared a competition on the automatic detection of verbal MWEs in different languages. Carla was involved as the Spanish language leader and one of its annotators. The competition was held in 18 languages in early 2017. She explains: “I was involved in the preparation of the annotation guidelines and participated in pilot annotations prior to the launch of the real annotation phase. During that period, I coordinated the Spanish team of annotators and acted as the contact person for the competition coordinators.” With Carla listed as a co-author, the guidelines have been published under a Creative Commons licence. Carla also organised a workshop with representatives from another COST Action, ENeL (European Network of e-Lexicography). This cross-COST event arose from conversations during a PARSEME meeting with a member of both Actions. Carla says: “We identified a common area of interest in which both communities could learn from each other and new synergies could be established. As a result of that workshop, we are co-editing a special issue of the International Journal of Lexicography to be released in 2018. “I can only be grateful to COST for funding PARSEME – my network is now much wider, and the experience gained through my engagement in the Action has pushed me to the next level in my research career,” she concludes.

She says being so closely involved in the organisation of the Action was “an incredible opportunity to work closely with

View the Action:  http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ict/IC1207

View the network website:  https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/parseme/

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COST in 2017


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Financial overview

Financial overview


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Financial overview COST is financed as a Coordinated and Support Action (CSA) in the form of yearly renewed Specific Grant Agreements within a seven-year Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) under Horizon 2020.

multiannual basis, which means the networks funded by the COST Association – the COST Actions – run for four years and are implemented under decentralised management, namely the COST Grant System.

The budget dedicated to COST comes from two Horizon 2020 Work Programmes, namely Work Programme Part 13 (Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies) and Part 15 (Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation). COST is a global framework whose core activity is the networking of researchers and stakeholders from public and private institutions, NGOs, industry and SMEs. It carries out its activities on a

Based on the most recent period of reporting to the European Commission, from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017, the COST Association spent EUR 42.036 million. Of this sum, EUR 42.036 million – more than 84 % – was allocated to the networking activities financed by the COST Association.

Direct costs: budget share per category

COST Action Support (Grants + Centralised Management)

84%

Personnel costs and related travel

13%

Evaluation, Monitoring and Assesment

1%

Skateholder engagement and Communications

1%

Cost of other goods and services

1%

Over the period 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017, the COST Association implemented more than 328 COST Action Grant Agreements, which in turn enabled around 35 000 networking activities (meetings, training schools, short-term scientific missions, etc.).

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Based on the most recent period of reporting to the European Commission, from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017, the COST Association spent EUR 42.036 million.

Budget allocated to networking tools (EUR)

Meeting 26,070 Training schools

5,782

STSM 2,662 Dissemination 544 OERSA 182

Financial overview


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COST in 2017


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Our events in a nutshell

Our events in a nutshell


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Our events in a nutshell 8 February 2017

Citizen Science and Open Data: a model for Invasive Alien Species in Europe | JRC-COST joint workshop Brussels, Belgium The COST Association and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) organised a joint workshop which focused on strategies for collecting and sharing data gathered by citizens on invasive alien species (IAS), with the aim of supporting a European early-warning and rapid-information system. One of the objectives of the workshop was to identify methods for recognising citizens as stakeholders in policymaking and best practices for engaging them in collecting and sharing data. In addition, solutions were identified for data sharing, management and communication to the relevant authorities. IAS are a growing threat to Europe’s biodiversity, causing severe ecological and economic impacts at an estimated annual cost of ₏12 billion in the EU. However, the resources required for the monitoring and surveillance needed to build comprehensive and up-to-date databases and sound early-warning systems are limited. The data gathered from different smartphone application software (apps) is fragmented and recently a proposal has been made to create a common platform for uploading data originating from apps or mirroring validated data in a single, easyto-use web service. This is in line with the Open Science Strategic Priority defined in June 2015 by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, along with the policy actions identified in the Draft European Open Science Agenda, and the Commission’s ambitious plan to develop the European Open Science Cloud. The event gathered different COST Action participants together with European Commission and JRC experts.

Member of the European Parliament, Pavel Poc, introducing the conclusions at the workshop

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9-10 February 2017

Ageing and Technology AAL-COST-MYBL joint workshop Brussels, Belgium Three relevant European initiatives – the COST Association, the Active and Assisted Living (AAL) Programme and the Joint Programming Initiative on Demographic Change ‘More Years, Better Lives’ (JPI MYBL) – jointly addressed some of the key challenges and opportunities on ageing in the European population. The aim of this workshop was to boost the collaboration between the research community and technology developers to provide better ICT-enriched living environments for older people, while identifying gaps in current research work and areas where issues are already being addressed. We brought researchers, others involved in the AAL and MYBL worlds/communities together with participants in relevant COST networks to discuss and provide a platform for new forms of collaboration. Finally, we provided information on the objectives and funding opportunities in the JPI MYBL and the AAL Programme, as well as the support COST can provide in funding large research networking activities on this topic. Participants at the AAL-COST-MYBL joint workshop

20 February 2017

Inspiring researchers, strengthening Europe Portugal in the spotlight Lisbon, Portugal COST Action participants from the Portuguese R&D community joined representatives of national research organisations, policymakers and industry at an informal lunch with Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. The initiative aimed to spark a discussion about the importance of open and bottom-up networking opportunities in the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and beyond. The event provided an open space where decision-makers could meet researchers from the Portuguese community and learn how participating in COST Actions has helped their research and career development. The debate focused on

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, learning about one of our networks with a COST Action researcher

Our events in a nutshell


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the importance of enabling researchers to have their say on policy impact and research-funding programmes. In this way, research policies can keep abreast of recent discoveries or emerging topics. Thanks to this opportunity, Portugalbased researchers were able to share their experiences with Mr Manuel Heitor, the Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, MEP Carlos Zorrinho, Mr António M. Cunha, President of the Conference of Rectors, and Prof Paulo Ferrão, President of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

Portugal is one of the best-performing less-researchintensive countries (ITCs) as regards COST Action leadership and its overall participation in networking activities. Researchers working in Portugal are currently active in over 90 % of all the running COST networks.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, talking about open and bottom-up networking.

22-26 May 2017

European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) spring meeting Strasbourg, France The conference comprised 26 parallel symposia with invited speakers, oral and poster presentations – in which some COST Action researchers participated – and a plenary session. It provided an international forum for discussing recent advances in the field of materials science. The conference was complemented by an exhibition in which around 70 international exhibitors displayed a full spectrum of equipment, instrumentation, products, software,

COST in 2017

publications and services. COST was present at the exhibition to offer participants the opportunity to learn more about the programme and COST Actions. Founded in 1983, the E-MRS now has more than 3 200 members from industry, government, academia and research laboratories, who meet regularly to debate recent technological developments in functional materials.


61 12-15 June 2017

European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC) Oulu, Finland The theme for EuCNC’17 was ‘5G - European Roadmap, Global Impact’, which may explain why the 26th edition of this series of events took place in Oulu (Finland), one of the leading hubs in wireless technology globally. Bearing in mind the preparations for the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the event provided an opportunity to demonstrate the value of European research and innovation in the domain of future communication and ICT services infrastructures. COST ran a booth at this event.

21-23 June 2017

EuroNanoForum 2017 Valetta, Malta EuroNanoForum 2017 focused on how nano- and materials technologies can strengthen competitiveness across all European industries. The programme included sessions on finance and funding through European and national programmes, in particular Horizon 2020, smart specialisation and public-private partnership initiatives. On 23 June, COST organised a workshop ‘COST contribution to the fields of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials’. The main objective was to present successful COST Actions in the fields of nanotechnology and advanced materials, highlighting the added value of Pan-European Networks of Science and Technology in strengthening Europe’s research and innovation capacities. In addition, COST was happy to welcome many delegates to the nanotech exhibition, where it shared a stand with the European Commission’s Research and Innovation DG.

26-30 June 2017

4th European Conference for Science Journalists Copenhagen, Denmark The event hosted science journalists and communicators from 39 countries worldwide who discussed ways of fighting false science news, reporting on climate change and the role of new media in responsible science reporting. COST invited 10 Action participants to pitch their networks’ story to science journalists during the press briefings.

Topics included understanding conspiracy theories, populist political communication, the digital lives of children under three years old, robots used in neurorehabilitation, solutions for reducing food scarcity and nanomaterials that can help avoid hospital infections.

28-30 June 2017

Week of Innovative Regions in Europe (WIRE) Košice, Slovakia Dr Katrin Vohland, from COST Action Citizen Science, was a speaker at the Widening participation session. Participants in this session analysed existing instruments that enable wider participation in EU research funding calls.

This year’s conference was built around digital innovation for growth and jobs, societal impact and socially responsible regional development, creativity for innovation and policy, widening and financing.

Our events in a nutshell


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10-11 July 2017

Rencontres, Recherche et Création Avignon, France In context of the Avignon Theatre Festival, the French Research Agency organised the 5th edition of “Rencontres, recherche et création”. The two-day event was dedicated to the study and analysis of creative communication and perception processes in real and fictional settings. More than 200 scientists and artists from different disciplines engaged in truly inter-disciplinary discussions.

COST Director, Dr Ronald de Bruin, gave a short presentation about the COST Programme and stressed the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of COST networks. Additionally, Prof Sabrina Corbellini, Chair of COST Action «New Communities of Interpretation: Contexts, Strategies and Processes of Religious Transformation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe», presented «Dignité et spiritualité dans la cité médiévale», sharing the stage with Oliver Taplin, Professor Emeritus at Oxford University.

25-29 September 2017

Graphene Week Athens, Greece The COST Association ran a booth at the annual Graphene Week conference in Greece. The event attracted over 550 participants, including many young researchers who were interested in joining COST Actions. As part of a newly formed collaboration between the Graphene Flagship and COST, the COST Science Officer Dr Mónica Pérez-Cabero gave a presentation about the COST Programme during the Open Forum Session on 25 September. Attendees learnt how COST Actions strengthen the scientific community through collaboration and also heard about COST’s commitment to inclusiveness. Graphene Week is an annual conference hosted by the Graphene Flagship, which features global leaders and experts in the research and development of technologies based on graphene and related materials. The event offered participants a wide-ranging scientific programme, as well as technology exhibitions and innovation sessions focusing directly on graphene technologies for real-world applications.

Dr Pérez-Cabero during her presentation about the COST Programme.

10 October 2017

COST at the European Week of Regions and Cities - Networks to share knowledge and deliver results Brussels, Belgium

COST and the main benefits of participating in a COST Action were presented at this conference. Three tandems from COST Actions in smart cities (CyberParks, Smart Energy

COST in 2017

Regions and Sub-Urban) provided testimonials on the synergies that can take place within COST Actions.


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9-10 November 2017

ICT Proposers’ Day 2017 Budapest, Hungary This networking Commission and for the Horizon Information and

event was organised by the European focused on the 2018 Calls for Proposals 2020 Work Programme in the field of Communication Technologies (ICT) and

Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). COST had a stand and some COST Actions relevant to the field presented posters and participated in the networking sessions.

COST Info Days COST Information Days offer an introduction to the COST Programme and COST Actions. The main topics include: •  What is COST? •  How does the COST Programme work? •  What is a COST Action? How can you participate? •  How to prepare successful proposals? •  What is the added value of participating in a COST Action?

In some countries, attendees hear first-hand accounts from COST Action participants. Here are the dates and cities in which COST was presented throughout 2017: Date Location 24 February 2017 Reykjavik, Iceland 14 March 2017 Stockholm, Sweden 4 May 2017 Bucharest, Romania 16 May 2017 Brussels, Belgium 18 May 2017 Kiev, Ukraine 1 June 2017 Bonn, Germany 15 September 2017 Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 26 September 2017 Lodz, Poland 27 September 2017 Sofia, Bulgaria 10 October 2017 Podgorica, Montenegro 29-30 November 2017 Jerusalem, Israel

Our events in a nutshell


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COST in 2017


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Media and engagement

Media and engagement


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Making the headlines Citizen science’ is the way to encourage critical thinking The Irish Times  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2ItJjIT

Rna-interferenza: la nuova ÂŤingegneria genetica per le piante Corriere della Sera  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2pkSanx

The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution Quanta Magazine - reprinted on WIRED.com  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2tPPljP

COST in 2017


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«Subteranul reprezintă o sursă care trebuie exploatată, dar întrun mod responsabil» BURSA (financial daily, Romania)  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2piQmLt

Aquaponics: A cool new way of growing food BBC Science in Action  iew the full story here: V http://bbc.in/2xWSlc1

‘No woman should live in fear for her life, simply because she is a woman’- President The Malta Independent  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2pgB1uU

Media and engagement


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Orientering- Danish Radio programme (interview with Andreas Onnerfors, Action on conspiracy theories) Danish Public Radio  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2peWG6M

Language skills are critical to success in a post-Brexit world, says Heriot-Watt professor The Times  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2HDznuO

Un estudio investiga la teorĂ­a de la relatividad general de Einstein a escalas no probadas hasta ahora RTVE.es  iew the full story V here: http://bit.ly/2pbNZes

COST in 2017


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Alla Politecnica la fisica corre in aiuto della medicina rigenerativa Il Corriere Adriatico  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2IsR2Xz

Sperimentati a Londra e Aveiro i sensori low cost frutto dell’alleanza transnazionale EuNetAir Canale Energia  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2DliSoV

El catedrático José María Rosales obtiene una ‘Acción COST’, un programa europeo de investigación en red 20minutos.es  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2GwZ80N

Media and engagement


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COST AKCIJA NA GRAĐEVINSKOM FAKULTETU OSIJEK - «Primjena georadara u ocjeni prometne infrastrukture» Glas Slavonije  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2Ir8efY

Bilateral tinnitus in men may be hereditary Health Canal  iew the full story here: V http://bit.ly/2HCH1py

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Social media stats of 2017 

6635 followers

6129 followers

Group

+22%

December 2017

+22%

December 2017

+4%

December 2017

Page

+36%

December 2017

+327 subscribers December 2017

Media and engagement


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ď‚šâ€ƒ Facebook Most popular countries for followers:

Most popular cities for followers:

Portugal Italy Greece Spain UK

Brussels Bucharest Athens Zagreb

Most popular post:

Video performance:

8,000 views

Page fans By age: 13-17 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+

COST in 2017

By gender: 0.3% 5% 40.2% 33.1% 14.3% 4.4% 2.7%

45% 55%

Male Female


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 Twitter Followers By age: 18-20 21-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+

By gender: 0.9% 7.2%

60% 40%

31.5% 40.6% 13.5% 4.5% 1.8%

Male Female

Activity overview:

229,462 organic impressions Popular tweets: Top Tweet

Top Tweet

‘‘#Media is attracted to #populism’’ Watch the #Award winning #animation from @populistcomm here bit.ly/2fPTukj pic.twitter/XoWRwMxc1P

Director Ronald de Briun on the role of COST in spreading & promoting excellence across Europe at the #SRC2017 @ALLEA_academies @acad_euro pic.twitter.com/ZWYeCw4mmM

 15   6  9   17

Media and engagement


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Top Tweet

Top Tweet

Did you know that the European Centre for MediumRange Weather Forecasts @ECMWF was created by a #COSTAction? #video #COSTProgramme #impact pic.twitter/vtv3AjLxKg

 7   14

Science is first and foremost about people, not only technological advancements - Dr Ronald de Bruin @AgenceRecherche @FestivalAvignon pic.twitter/ hkU4RBTcD1

 7   14

#COSTconnect

Gertjan Filarski @GertjanF – 25 Oct 2017

Spent yesterday and today networking in Brussels. To quote a colleague: this is a experiencing the EU at its best @COSTProgramme #COSTConnect   2

  6

Rafaela Ganga @rafaelaganga – 25 Oct 2017

How to create and measure #impact on #CulturalHeritage? A question we address daily on @ICCLiverpool #COSTConnect #EYCH18 #EuropeForCulture pic.twitter.com/6a7CTIMHnq   2

  10

Steffi Wefers @steffiwefers1 – 25 Oct 2017

At #COSTConnect we are discussing ’’How to aggregate the impact CH research is creating?’’ and ‘‘How to manage legal issues?’’@COSTProgramme   3

  3

Flaminio Squazzoni @squazzoni– 24 Nov 2017 #COSTConnect meeting on impact of research & innovation starting right now here pic.twitter/6a7CTIMHnq   2

COST in 2017

  6


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#COSTactions COST @COSTProgramme – 15 Dec 2017

COST held an Info Day in Tel Aviv on Nov 30th to inform the scientific community about COST’s work, including ways #researchers can participate and launch #COSTactions and advice on how to write succesful project proposals. Read more here bit.ly/2iIYfe0

  4

  2

COST @COSTProgramme – 2 Feb 2017

Mobile #health #apps put millions of users’ #privacy and #security at risk, researchers find > > bit.ly/2nvGRbQ @AgustiSolanas @kpatsak @universitatURV #COSTactions @OperandoH2020   1

  7

  10

Hammed Ahmadi @Hamed_ece – 29 Jan 2017

#iracom meeting in cyprus #COST #COSTactions #IRACON   3

  7

DITOs @TogetherSci – 13 Nov 2017

COST Action @CA15212, an initiative in favour of Citizen Science. #DITscience #COSTactions #citizenscience   2

  7

Media and engagement


© COST Association 2018

COST Association Avenue Louise 149 1050 Brussels, Belgium T +32 (0)2 533 3800 F +32 (0)2 533 3890 office@cost.eu www.cost.eu COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

COST in 2017 - Annual report  

Building bridges of excellence for young researchers is the title of the 2017 COST annual report. This report puts particular focus on the C...

COST in 2017 - Annual report  

Building bridges of excellence for young researchers is the title of the 2017 COST annual report. This report puts particular focus on the C...

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