November 30, 2022 | Elsbeth Bembom

Kicking off the REGROUP project in Groningen


On October 13th and 14th, all project partners of REGROUP gathered in Groningen to officially launch our Horizon Europe project, with three kick-off events. By meeting physically, the consortium got to meet each other, plan upcoming activities, and discuss research and management strategies. What did we do successfully kick-off a Horizon Europe-funded project? This blog will tell you more about our events. 

Organised by the lead partner, the University of Groningen, the kick-off started with an organisational workshop on October 13. After an informal lunch and introduction round, scientific coordinator Dr. Piero Tortola opened the meeting with a presentation on REGROUP’s management structure and matters related to finances, ethics, and data management. Afterwards, EC Project Officer Ilona Von Bethlenfalvy introduced the specifics and regulations of the Horizon Europe programme and project and dissemination manager Elsbeth Bembom shared the foundations of the forthcoming communication and dissemination strategy.

Photo by Lorenzo Cicchi


Public event on post-pandemic dilemmas

After the workshop, there was a public event called “Post-pandemic dilemmas: Knowledge, information, and democracy after Covid-19” at the Nieuwe Kerk in Groningen on how liberal-democracies should best deal with disinformation, mistrust in science, and political polarization in post-pandemic times. How has the Covid-19 pandemic influenced these spheres and what lessons can be learned for future challenges?

Photo by Benjamin Leruth

After the opening speech of Dr. Piero Tortola, insights and perspectives were given to these questions by Professor Ilaria Capua, Director of the University of Florida One Health Center of Excellence and former member of the Italian Parliament, and Professor Joshua Tucker, Professor of Politics at New York University, who both serve in the REGROUP advisory board.

As public experts and renowned scientists themselves, they discussed the role of social media, citizens’ political bias and the importance of interdisciplinary and open science for the nexus of knowledge, information, and democracy during Covid-19. The speeches were followed by a lively discussion, guided by the questions of a very engaged and diverse audience.

It was a privilege to officially inaugurate the REGROUP project with Professor Capua and Professor Tucker, together with the project partners and other attendees, at the impressive ambiance of the Nieuwe Kerk. The first kick-off day was closed in style with a networking dinner.   


Research workshop

The next morning, partner representatives gathered together to discuss the research approach of REGROUP, and its upcoming work. Tortola opened the meeting with a presentation on the analytical framework and methodological considerations, followed by presentations of work packages 1 to 4 by their respective leaders (LUISS, IAI, EUI, and RUG). They informed the rest of the partners of their aims, approaches, and next steps. 

Photo by Lorenzo Cicchi

The first four work packages are categorized under the purpose of diagnosing what has happened in relation to politics, society, and policy-making in Europe and beyond, during the Covid-19 pandemic. WPs 1-4 will form the first pillar of the comprehensive research strategy of REGROUP. After the work package presentations, partners continued their discussion on the research questions, strategies, and organisation of REGROUP in two breakout sessions. This concluded the kick-off of the project. Thank you all for your enthusiasm, engagement and participation!

Read more about the work packages here.


What’s next? 

Now, the project is officially underway and the initial steps to achieve our deliverables and milestones in work package 1-4 have been conducted. The upcoming tasks contain, among others, preparatory witness meetings for work packages 3 & 4 and 5 & 6, respectively, and the organisation of our first academic workshop in Paris.  

If you are interested in knowing more about REGROUP and if you would like to follow our journey, please follow us on Twitter and Mastodon and stay informed through our blogs on the website!