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From the Netherlands to Austria, Story of a PHOENIX secondee to Energie Agentur Steiermark

29.06.2017

written by Melanie ten Asbroek, University of Twente

Melanie.jpgFor two months Melanie ten Asbroek, EU Grants Specialist at the University of Twente, moved to Graz, Austria, to work for the Energie Agentur Steiermark (EAS) as secondee of the People for tHe eurOpean bioENergy Mix (PHOENIX) Project. The exchange offered both parties the opportunity to collect input for the Innovation Training Plan in the project and strengthen the cooperation between the University of Twente, Energie Agentur Steiermark, the European Sustainable Energy Innovation Alliance (eseia), and the Graz University of Technology. Furthermore, she was involved in the preparation of the working visit from the rectors of the clusters of technical universities in the Netherlands to the Graz University of Technology.

My Phoenix secondment to the Energie Agentur Steiermark (EAS) in Graz has been a great experience so far. I worked in another country, in a different sector, and with completely different people and it truly widened my perspective on my own job and skills. Back home at the University of Twente, I work as a Grants Advisor, supporting researchers to apply for European funding. Researchers often have difficulties integrating all relevant stakeholders in their project consortium. However, this is not the case at EAS because of their unique position between government and business, but also because of the efforts they put into networking activities. For two months, from May to June, I have supported researchers in their applications for funding at EAS and learned that the attitude of partners in a proposal differs quite significantly from that of advisors: in this position one tends to be rather critical, and such attitude can hinder the teambuilding efforts required in a consortium.

Since my task in the Phoenix project is about defining future collaboration opportunities for the consortium partners, I have started this job by analysing the connections between my university and its partners in Graz, namely the European Sustainable Energy Innovation Alliance (eseia), EAS and the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). For instance, in the coming years UTwente and eseia could further their cooperation in the fields of digital society and smart materials.  I have also prepared and accompanied a working visit from my rector to the rector of TU Graz and joined a meeting of all rectors from technical universities in The Netherlands and Austria. This provided me with perspectives of cooperation at a strategic level, a good starting point for the Phoenix Training & Innovation plan.

My colleagues at EAS and I found out that the profiles of our organizations are quite complementary for applying for Horizon 2020 proposals together and that the research and education offered at the UT in the energy transition management field would be very useful for EAS employees. So we identified topics for future joint proposals and re-arranged our secondments in a way that the staff exchanges will target more people from both sides.

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Above (f.l.t.r): IJsbrand Haagsma (Secretary General at 4TU.Federation), Harald Kainz (Rector of TU Graz), Frank Baaijens (Rector Magnificus of the Eindhoven University of Technology), Arthur Mol (Rector Magnificus of the Wageningen University), Thom Palstra (Rector Magnificus of the University of Twente). Below (f.l.t.r): Wilfried Eichlseder (Professor at Montanuniversität Leoben), Elke Standeker (Secretary General of the Austrian Universities of Technology), Sabine Seidler (Rector of the Vienna University of Technology), Karel Luyben (Rector Magnificus of the Delft University of Technology), Melanie ten Asbroek (EU Grants Specialist at the University of Twente).

About the PHOENIX project

The PHOENIX project targets staff exchanges and promotes joint innovation activities by bringing together Europe´s key players from academia, business, and the public sector. Together, they will develop and improve innovative solutions for a bio-economy based on non-conventional bio-resources.

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Project Contact Information

Aigul Murat
eseia Project Assistant
aigul.murat@eseia.eu