Report on the Topic Groups meeting in Twente, the Netherlands

A two day workshop was held for Topic Groups on 12-13 January 2016, at the University of Twente in the Netherlands hosted by euRobotics Vice President for Research Stefano Stramigioli. Some 80+ participants, representing all of the Topic Groups, were also joined by a number of Directors to start the process of developing the work programmes for the Horizon 2020 robotics calls in 2018, 2019 and 2020. These will be the last three Calls in Horizon 2020 and it is important that the targets in these thee work programmes provide a clear focus for Robotics and provide good impact on the market in the future.

The workshop consisted of a mixture of breakout sessions and plenaries providing an opportunity for open discussion on both the topics for consideration and the process of generating the work programme. Breakout sessions focused on three sets of key questions designed to draw out the key issues within each Topic Group that will shape the targets for the new work programme. In a new approach during two of the breakout sessions Topic Groups were clustered to create larger discussion groups and help cross linkage between groups. These sessions helped to align discussions and mirrors the cross cutting focus that needs to be reflected in the work programme.

Anne Bajart from the Commission Robotics Unit also attended the workshops and provided useful information on the on-going development of the “Digitalisation of Industry Strategy” that is expected to emerge in the next few months. Aligning parts of the work programme with this strategy will be an important focal point.

Outputs from the workshops will be collated in the next month to highlight key themes for the work programme and to identify potential targets. These will culminate in an overview document setting out the goals and objectives for the work programme that will be communicated to the Commission after the ERF2016 in March. Work will then continue to develop the details of the work programme targets with a final vote by the General Assembly in December before the full input is delivered to the Commission in January 2017. It is expected that a Topic Group coordinators meeting will be held in April/May and that the Board of Directors will hold a workshop in October to review the final outcomes.

The event also discussed the future development of the Multi-Annual Roadmap and explored how best to develop this important resource. Further information about the development of the MAR will be presented at the ERF.

Twente proved to be an excellent location for this type of large Topic Group meeting combining accommodation, large and small meeting rooms and good food all in one building.

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