On 6 February 2020 the first ever COST Awareness Day took place in Baku, Azerbaijan. The event was held at the National Scientific Library of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and attracted over 150 people.
Dr Esmira Alirzayeva, Head of the Department of International Relations of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, presented an overview of the achievements and challenges of international cooperation in science. In particular, Dr Alirzayeva highlighted the need for Azerbaijan to increase scientific activities in international cooperation and placed special emphasis on the benefits of attracting funding from European research programmes such as COST.
In line with Dr Alirzayeva’s key messages, Mr Ilham Humbatov, COST National Correspondent for Azerbaijan, stressed the key role of COST in offering networking opportunities for the Azerbaijani researchers.
Above: Judith Litjens, presents the role of COST in promoting and spreading excellence.
Judith Litjens, Policy Officer at the COST Association, informed participants of the role of COST in promoting and spreading excellence and, more practically, about the opportunities available to Near Neighbour Countries that wish to participate in COST Actions. Reinforcing this message, Dr Krzysztof Gulda, member of the COST Scientific Committee, presented COST as “the simplest, easiest and most accessible way to get involved in EU research collaborations and opportunities”.
Above: Dr Nabil Seyidov presents his experiences of being the first ever COST Action participant from Azerbaijan.
Building on the practical advice provided to participants, Dr Nabil Seyidov gave the audience an exciting insight into his experience as the first ever COST Action participant from Azerbaijan. Dr Seyidov explained how participating in the COST Action ‘Industrially contaminated sites and health network’ had given him the opportunity to develop an effective network across 33 countries and work with more than 150 experts in the field. His informative and enthusiastic presentation clearly inspired the audience and even led to ad-hoc exploration of potential cooperation among audience participants.
High-level meeting with the First Vice-President of ANAS
The Awareness Day was followed by a high-level meeting with the First Vice-President of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), Ibrahim Guliyev. Dr Esmira Alirzayeva, Mr Ilham Humbatov, Dr Krzysztof Gulda and Judith Litjens were invited to the meeting, during which benefits of COST Actions for researchers in Azerbaijan were discussed.
COST workshop for targeted audience
In the afternoon a COST workshop was organised in the context of the EuropAid project ‘Strengthening Research Development and Innovation (RDI) in higher education in Azerbaijan’, led by Dr Krzysztof Gulda.
With a view to strengthening the capacity of the Azerbaijani RDI centres and University Liaison Points in identifying and promoting relevant funds for RDI, COST had been invited to present opportunities of the COST Programme to a selected group of 34 researchers and research support staff, most of them coming from higher education institutions and research organisations across Azerbaijan. The idea was to provide this targeted audience with an in-depth understanding on how to get involved in COST Actions, highlighting in particular the practical aspects. The session was organised in an interactive format, encouraging participants to ask questions and share their experiences.