Bringing Eastern Partnership research and education networks together with peers from Europe is one of the goals of the EaPConnect (Eastern Partnership Connect) project. Where better to mingle and exchange knowledge and ideas than at TNC, the largest and most prestigious European research networking conference? Around 20 project partner staff and associates attended TNC18 in Trondheim, Norway, from 11-14 June, interacting with the international research and education networking community to learn and to share insights into developments in the EaP region.

Early in the week, a project meeting was held to assess progress and compare plans for the conference. This was an opportunity for the core project team to introduce staff who were new to the conference and the project group, including technical experts and people working in the marketing communications area.

On Tuesday, a session on ‘regional networks, communities and ecosystems’ featured a presentation about the ‘regional networking ecosystem in Eastern Partnership countries’. In this, Naira Kocharyan of the Armenian partner ASNET-AM gave an overview of the project partners, activities and achievements to date. She showed how the region’s networks and services have been integrating with those of GÉANT to support end users in research and education and their collaboration across Europe.

A joint meeting of the GÉANT Special Interest Group on Marketing Communications, SIG-Marcomms, and the Global PR Network also spotlighted EaPConnect activities. One round-table discussion, comparing the development of marketing communications skills in different world regions, showed how the EaP region is succeeding in developing capacity by assigning dedicated staff to this area of business and allowing them to participate in group training, project team meetings and community meetings such as the SIG. Another success that was discussed was the huge response by researchers in the EaP region to the project’s recent calls for proposals for ‘Enlighten Your Research’ projects. Active promotion on a national level by each of the EaPConnect partners and coordinated follow-up by technical and managerial colleagues were the significant reasons for this success.

Some of the EaPConnect partners’ technical teams were interviewed at TNC18 to find out what they thought about their attendance at the conference and how it benefits them and their organisation and users. They felt that it was a very valuable experience both in terms of the human networking and for the knowledge they shared and gained.