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The latest GÉANT SEE Forum took place online in April 2021; it was well-attended and its informative programme generated great engagement and interest.

Funding opportunities for the region

The meeting kicked off with an overview, by Hendrik Ike from GÉANT, of the Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPAIII) funding and wider funding mechanisms for the region.  IPAIII’s main priorities include sustainable connectivity, the green agenda and the need for cross border cooperation.

Anastas Mishev from MARNET confirmed that the majority of Western Balkan countries have identified funding opportunities, in particular with a focus on the deployment of a regional infrastructure. Some planning activities are kicking off at regional level, although it will be some time before concrete proposals will be ready for evaluation by relevant ministries.  Organisations engaging with local governments are advised to put forward and highlight priorities such as large projects with high impact and multi-country projects, as these present an excellent opportunity to use the expertise within GÉANT and extend the network’s footprint in the region.

ULAKBIM’s proposal

Mehmet Mirat Satoğlu from ULAKBIM highlighted the 5 main points of the Turkish NREN’s funding proposal and announced the organisation’s readiness to look for IPA partners in the region.

  • Extension to the West Balkan region of the distant education portal currently used by 15 universities in Turkey.
  • ‘As distance education is here to stay’, a hybrid education model for the future.
  • Offer to extend their open access journal hosting Journal Park, which has been live for 7 years now, to the West Balkan countries and Europe.
  • Establishing HPC systems in research universities offering HPC accelerated research.
  • eduGAIN training and implementation to bring more universities onboard.

This intervention clearly highlighted that ULAKBIM is at an advanced stage of collaboration with the Turkish government and is willing to offer a useful example and model for the SEE region.

GN project, network and NREN survey

Updates about the next stages of the GN4-3 and GN4-3N projects, to become GN5-1 and GN5-ic on Intercontinental connectivity, captured the attention of all participants. GN5-1 is currently at the information gathering stage and after a strict and structured evaluation process, the final proposal will be submitted to the EC in May 2022.

GÉANT network update showed the network’s extended footprint with so many added connection options in the European continent while the region’s network upgrade is still pending due to budget availability. Bram Peters from GÉANT highlighted that ‘where we have spectrum we will have no connectivity limits in the next 15 years’ and presented an overview of the global connectivity panorama and all the possibilities it offers to the region.  Network proposals (submission deadline May 2021) from partners should take into consideration the global scale and aim to build on the success and experience of GN4-3N.

A summary of the results of the annual GÉANT (N)REN satisfaction survey presented by Beatrix Weber from GÉANT revealed a high level of satisfaction, the success of the new infoshare programme, the value of EOSC engagement and a general seamless transition to remote working, for all (N)RENs that completed the survey, notwithstanding the void left by the lack of personal contact. The outcome of the survey and its continuous improvement will be discussed by (N)RENs and their partner relations officers.

2021 SEE User Forum

The meeting closed with plans for the first 2021 SEE Users Forum event to take place in Q4 2021, following on from comments from one of SEE’s latest reports. The user forum will aim to support the SEE (N)RENs, bring them closer to their R&E community and provide a platform for users to exchange best practices on Open Science and the use of Federation Identity to enable the adoption of services across borders.  The SEE User Forum will be supported by NI4OS and EOSC Future.

The coming months are going to be busy for all of us; we look forward to seeing you all at the next SEE Forum.

For further information on the GÉANT SEE Forum, please visit our wiki pages and/or contact Marina De Giorgi from GÉANT Partner Relations.

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