A cultural-technological ‘first’ in Armenia, high-level speakers and diverse international experts came together in Yerevan at the 4th Eastern Partnership E-infrastructures Conference – EaPEC 2019 – on 25-26 September.

Organised by the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Connect (EaPConnect) project under the theme ‘Connecting with Culture’, the event started on Tuesday 24th with a ‘distributed’ concert for invited guests, with choirs in Yerevan and in Italy performing together in real time despite a distance of around 5000 km.

EaPEC 2019 featured a number of high-level speakers. Participants were welcomed by Hoa-Binh Adjemian, EC, Head of Sector DG NEAR; the Armenian Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Arayik Harutyunyan; the Armenian Deputy Minister of High-Tech Industry, Armen Abroyan; and the President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS RA), Radik Martirosyan. The keynote presentation, on ‘the transformative power of research and education networks’ was delivered by the CEO of GÉANT, Erik Huizer.

A celebratory cake was cut to mark several significant anniversaries: 10 years of the Eastern Partnership, 20 years of EaPConnect partners from Georgia (GRENA) and Moldova (RENAM), and 25 years of the EaPEC 2019 host ASNET-AM successfully serving the Armenian research and education community.

Hover State Choir performing in Yerevan with Solisti della Cappella Marciana choir in Venice on the screen behind., ©IIAP NAS RA
The Solisti della Cappella Marciana choir performing in Venice, Italy., ©Cappella Marciana

Connecting with Culture

With EaPEC 2019 being held at the Matenadaran Museum’s Mesrop Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, where better to explore ‘Connecting with Culture’? E-infrastructures not only support ‘big science’, but also digital libraries and cultural heritage, open science and machine learning, humanities and social sciences, as well as performing arts collaborations across borders. The Tuesday evening concert brought this theme alive, with a performance by Hover State Chamber Choir in Yerevan and the Solisti della Cappella Marciana choir in Venice, Italy. Connected by dedicated high-capacity research and education networks combined with ‘LoLa’ low latency data transmission technology, this was the first concert of its kind in Armenia.

‘LoLa’ technology was introduced into Armenia through the EaPConnect project. It was developed by Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini from Trieste (Italy) in collaboration with GARR, the Italian national research and education network organisation. GARR organised the Venice end of the ‘Connecting with Culture’ performance, while in Armenia, technical support and operation of LoLa is provided by ASNET-AM.

The conference also explored the ‘Connecting with Culture’ theme with a session that included Akrivi Katifori (EMOTIVE) explaining the ‘myth’ of connectivity in cases of mobile digital storytelling for cultural heritage, and Steven Krauwer explaining why CLARIN – which makes digital language resources available – relies on research and education networks. Surprised by Hrachya Astsatryan of ASNET-AM announcing that a proposal for the Armenian NREN to work with CLARIN would be proposed, he said: “It’s good to have a success 2 minutes after you finish your talk!”

Other highlights

Technological, ethical, societal and policy aspects of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence were discussed, as well as opportunities for Armenia in EU funding programmes and in the European Open Science Cloud. Examples of real-life uses and benefits to research and society of research and education networks and other e-infrastructures were also shown.

EYR@EaP2019 winners. , ©IIAP NAS RA

Winners of the 2019 Enlighten Your Research programme for the Eastern Partnership – EYR@EaP2019 – were presented with awards for their project proposals. Seven winners, from Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine gave short presentations and received their awards on day two of the conference.

Further information

EaPEC 2019 and the ‘Connecting with Culture’ concert were hosted by ASNET-AM, the Armenian NREN, which is a partner in the EaPConnect project alongside NRENs from the other Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries – Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine.

EaPConnect organises EaPEC as part of its goal to interconnect the Eastern Partnership and EU research and education communities. EaPEC 2019 was an opportunity for Armenian researchers, policy makers and academics and e-infrastructure experts to meet with their peers to find common ground and build community towards future collaborations.

Presentations and videos from the conference will be made available via the EaPEC 2019 website in the coming days.

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