Co-UDlabs successfully closes its TA calls with over 30 funded projects

Besides its research, community-building, and training activities, one of the core missions of the Co-UDlabs project, an EU-funded INFRAIA framework for large research infrastructures collaboration across Europe, was that of providing free-of-charge access to 17 high-level research facilities in 7 European countries to as many researchers, practitioners, and experts as possible. After the end of our 2nd and 3rd Transnational Access global calls, in February 2024, our project’s goal has now been fulfilled.

After successfully hosting 13 TA proposals in 10 facilities through our 1st TA Call, with over 100 users involved from more than 60 institutions and 19 countries around the world, Co-UDlabs opened its 2nd Transnational Access (TA) Call on July 3, 2023, at its General Assembly in Lyon, France. The call was supported by two open events for the UD research and practitioner community: an introductory webinar (June 20, 2023) and a Hackathon event (September 6, 2023) – with a combined attendance of over 80 people from academia, industry, utilities, and local regulators.

When the call officially closed, on October 13, 2023, Co-UDlabs had received 24 proposals, 16 of which were eventually accepted at the end of the 2nd TA Call.

All major indicators from the 1st call in terms of outreach and institutional participation have been improved in the 2nd Call. Participation of new countries such as Serbia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey are a testament to the efforts that the consortium made to expand its reach and visibility to areas (e.g., Central and Eastern Europe) which would have otherwise been underrepresented in our TA programme.

An extraordinary 3rd TA call, in which only INSA’s OTHU-DRB and Aalborg’s FREJLEV facilities were available for submissions, opened on December 15, 2023, to allow the providers to meet some of the programme’s requirements about granted accesses. The 3rd Call closed on January 19, 2024. Two proposals – one for each available facility – were received and accepted.

Following the 2nd and 3rd Calls, 18 new TA projects will be carried out at Co-UDlabs’ research infrastructure starting from early 2024. With the 2nd and 3rd calls combined, Co-UDlabs has granted TA slots to user groups from 24 different countries (12 non-EU), whose leaders are based in 10 different countries (3 non-EU). The 18 projects will involve 126 members from 61 different institutions. 27.8% of user-group members are women, 9% more if compared to the 1st TA Call’s results. A decline in submissions from outside of academia has given Co-UDlabs’ partners an incentive to multiply the efforts to reach out to the industry, private sector, and utilities and regulators to broaden the potential public of Co-UDlabs activities and key results.

Through all three TA calls combined, Co-UDlabs has involved 227 user-group members from 122 institutions and 26 different countries (11 non-EU), led by user-group leaders from 16 countries (5 non-EU). Ultimately, 54 users are women (23.8%), 67 are from non-EU countries (29.5%), and 75 are from non-academic institutions (33%). Throughout the three years of activity of its TA programme, Co-UDlabs has accepted 31 proposals. The project’s final months will now focus on the performance of the newly approved TAs and providing all participants with the best possible platform to build on the results, outcomes, and products of their research stays.

The end of the TA calls closes a very important phase for the implementation of Co-UDlabs and the development of its research network. All partners are proud of the contribution that Co-UDlabs is making to the establishment of a more effective, open, and inclusive urban drainage research community, and it is welcoming the path-breaking results that will come from the ideas and innovations that it has hosted at its research facilities.

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