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Global Research Council European Virtual Seminar on COVID-19

The outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020 shifted the organisation and hosting of the foreseen Global Research Council (GRC) meetings to 2021. Additionally, a series of virtual GRC regional seminars on COVID-19 was programmed for autumn and winter. The seminar for the European region was co-hosted by Science Europe and the German Research Foundation (DFG) on 14 January 2021.

The outcomes of this meeting will be merged with those of the other regional GRC seminars. The resulting report will be provided as a background document for discussion at the 9th GRC Annual Meeting in Durban in May 2021.

The opening session discussed best practices, challenges, and success stories in how funding organisations have dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on their core business. Topics and questions linked to the session included fast-track calls, repurposing and reviewing proposals, remote review panels and quality assurance, as well as grant management and career and gender aspects.

Session 2 addressed the challenging topic of the integration of scientific advice into policy making during the ongoing pandemic. Panellists discussed their experiences with governments in their respective national contexts. Participants agreed that an effective national and international science advice system requires planning and appropriate support, for scientists to perform their key advisory role, while leaving decisions to relevant authorities. There was agreement that the crisis has successfully showcased the achievements of COVID-19-related research and researchers to the public.

In session 3, representatives from research funding organisations, the European Commission, the World Health Organisation and governmental advisors discussed the impact of the pandemic on the global research and innovation system and the implication for future international collaboration.

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