National Open Science Cloud Initiatives: progress update

The year 2021 marks a milestone for Open Science in Southeast Europe (SEE). NI4OS-Europe team through activities has been working towards the launching of 15 national initiatives in the area. The year started with a webinar presenting the Blueprint for NOSCIs’ establishment. Two significant meetings followed, which were held during the period of the first half of 2021 between the NI4OS-Europe partner countries, the first in March and the second in May. Both meetings were important for laying the foundations for the NOSCIs. The two meetings had common objectives, to capture the progress and updates of each partner country as well as further specified work, and/or express any questions and open issues related to NOSCI’s progress in the NI4OS-Europe partnership.

All partners engaged in presentations, in the form of lighting talks, following a unified approach on the structure of the content reporting on:

  1. their strategic approach to workflow models,  namely: Top-down, Bottom-up or Hybrid.
  2. the actions taken or the plans in place for establishing NOSCIs and / or for working within the NOSCI teams, e.g. national roadmaps, task forces etc.
  3. their national dissemination events targeting all types of stakeholders for NOSCIs uptake, e.g. training and webinars for researchers and service providers or meetings with high level representatives etc.

The first meeting was clearly a starting point. All partner countries were classified in three distinct groups based on NOSCI readiness by understanding the different levels and diversity of actions taken across them:

Group 1: The countries that have already had discussions about NOSCI with government officials, but progress has been stalled due to political reasons, e.g. elections, changes in relevant Ministry or institutional administration, etc. (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro, Serbia)

In this group, representative countries are working on activities that relate to initiating or maintaining regular contact with their Ministries and other national stakeholders. Αdditionally, they collaborate with OpenAIRE NOADs for awareness-raising webinars and Open Science trainings while some countries have developed or are in the process of developing NOSCIs portals.

Group 2: The countries that do not have an established working NOSCI team.   (Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, N. Macedonia)

The countries classified in this group although have taken up primary actions, they do not have a NOSCI in place, yet. Some countries have organized National NI4OS-Europe dissemination events in collaboration with OpenAIRE NOADs and other national partners and, similarly to the previous group, they created or are about to create dedicated web pages in their native language to spread awareness and communicate Open Science and EOSC results.

Group 3: The countries with an established working NOSCI team. (Greece, Slovenia)

This is the least populated group reflecting the highest maturity of NOSCI developments in the NI4OS-Europe countries. The representative countries had a strong OpenAIRE presence that allowed them to build on Open Science policy work to establish working NOSCI teams. They are also the ones who are in the process of writing or signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NOSCI members.

Following up with the second meeting in May 2021, it was observed that the three country groups merged, shuffled and rearranged. Despite the diversity of the area, the large number of partners, and the different setup model each country follows, NI4OS-Europe members adhere to a common action line that reflects the effort of all to reach the same level of maturity. It is estimated that next winter all partner countries will have established NOSCI working teams and the MoUs signed, which will be a huge achievement in the region of SEE. Moreover, some early, but important, steps were made towards the NOSCIs’ establishment. The core activities for setting up NOSCIs had progressed in the following areas:

13 partner countries in the process of setting up a NOSCI
17 organisations from the region applied to join EOSC Association as members
4 organisations from the region applied to join EOSC Association as observers
6 NOSCI/OS websites (Albania, N. Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia)
5 established NOSCI WG teams (Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia)
6 MoU drafted (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Georgia)
5 MoU under development (Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia)
2 contributions to national strategic documents (Greece, Montenegro)

The overall picture after both meetings is very inspiring. All partners are determined to overcome issues and difficulties such as the frequent political changes of the area and the language barriers to strengthen the NI4OS-Europe partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, partner countries expanded their collaboration with other EOSC channels such as OpenAIRE and EOSC Association. Several organizations have already applied to join the EOSC Association either as members or observers to ensure EOSC inclusiveness in the region of Southeast Europe and strengthen Open Science. Moreover, three countries have already signed their MoUs and launched their NOSCIs (Croatia, North Macedonia and Romania).

The next meeting is planned to take place in September 2021, and it is expected that most of the countries will have signed the MoU and will have set up their NOSCI teams.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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