Community spirit and an equal exchange of ideas were prominent features of a recent EaPConnect project workshop on business models for national research and education network (NREN) organisations. The two-day event, which was hosted in Berlin by the German NREN, DFN Verein, included 22 participants from 13 countries across Europe and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region.

The objective of the workshop was to compare the differing business models of NRENs around Europe, to examine strategies for sustainability and to develop awareness and knowledge of business models in general. A highlight was a presentation of the Berlin-based ‘The Unbelievable Machine Company’, which has a focus on Big Data analytics and cloud computing. This provided welcome sparks of new ideas and innovation.

I really appreciated the workshop ‘Business Models for NRENs’. It was very interesting to see the differences in our business models and organisations, but I was also very pleased to see how many similarities we have. We have a lot to learn from each other by sharing experiences. This workshop was a very good way to do that!”

Maria Häll, SUNET (Sweden), CEO

A rich variety                                                                           

Some NRENs are mainly or solely funded by their governments; others operate as an association or work completely independently. Some NRENs are bound by the instructions of their members, others are given the freedom to explore additional sources of revenue. There is also variety in NREN strategies for sustainability – the actual solutions they have developed to address their unique challenges.

Experts from AMRES, DFN, SUNET and SWITCH were invited to present their business models and strategies. Other workshop participants, NREN representatives from the EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – presented their approach and explained the challenges they face.

Christine Lanner of SWITCH, presenting at the business models for NRENs workshop, ©DFN
Jochem Pattloch & other participants at the business models for NRENs workshop, ©DFN

The cross-border ‘community spirit’ was outstanding. That very special form of collaboration between NRENs, the way they were able to exchange thoughts on an equal level. I was impressed by the energy and dedication of our colleagues from the EaP countries. They showed a high level of engagement in the interests of their NRENs, often under challenging conditions.”

Christine Lanner, SWITCH (Switzerland), Head of Management Services / Deputy Managing Director

Among many aspects for a successful NREN, building your community is one of the most important. Generate value for your community. There are many ways. For instance if there is a somewhat developed market go for a community -wide coordination of procurements.”

Jochem Pattloch, DFN Verein (Germany), Mangaing Director
Participants of the business models for NRENs workshop in breakout group discussions, ©DFN

Memorable and useful

As a result of the workshop, participants returned home well equipped with new expertise and knowledge, ready to optimise and refine the business models of their own NRENs.

This workshop was a memorable experience, with great energy and a lot of useful insights that will help participants with their current and future challenges.”

Milos Cvetanovic, AMRES (Serbia), Director

Further information

The ‘Business models for NRENs’ workshop was held on 17-18 January 2017, with participants from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, GÉANT, Germany, Georgia, Moldova, Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

The EaPConnect team very much appreciates the support from the European NREN community in the way they are helping the EaP NREN community and the project.”

Maria Minaricova, GÉANT, EaPConnect project manager