National Tripartite Event: The Netherlands

UTRECHT – The second National Tripartite Event in the Netherlands took place on 22 May 2024 and was hosted by SURF, the EOSC-A Mandated Organisation for the Netherlands; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW); Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK); Open Science NL; and Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS). The event took place at the SURF conference facility in Utrecht.

The audience was welcomed by Jet de Ranitz, the CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors of SURF, who reminded everyone that the event was an excellent opportunity to advance Open Science in the Netherlands.

Afterwards, Susanne Caarls from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science stressed the importance of a speedy transition to Open Science, which must become the new norm.

Next on the agenda were presentations by Pantelis Tziveloglou, Policy Officer at the Open Science and Research Infrastructure Unit of Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission; Karel Luyben, President of the EOSC Association; and Volker Beckmann, Co-chair of the ESOC-Steering Board.

All three speakers shared updates related to the current priority of the EOSC Partnership, which is the co-creation of the EOSC Federation. The EOSC Federation will enable a positive change. Researchers will benefit from nodes that will offer services and data. The first node in the Federation, the EOSC EU node, will be launched in September 2024 and it was announced that additional nodes will be created in autumn. Karel Luyben concluded with a call for contributors to the EOSC Federation Handbook.

During the discussion, Pantelis Tziveloglou and Karel Luyben both referred to a report by Enrico Letta titled Much more than a market, which argues that the future Single Market will include a fifth freedom – free movement of research and education. This principle resonates strongly with the very foundations of EOSC.

After a break, Maarten Hoogerwerf and Laurents Sesink from SURF launched a discussion about the future EOSC nodes and the necessity to build bridges between actors in a Dutch data landscape, which is rich but also complex.

They invited the audience to split into three groups to discuss future EOSC nodes in the Netherlands and to explore possible scenarios. The participants discussed whether all prospective Dutch nodes should connect into one single node, act as individual nodes, or find a hybrid solution. The groups also talked about what a node could offer and what challenges organisations may face when sharing resources with a broader community.

The joint conclusion of all groups was that besides FAIR data and services, the Netherlands could contribute to building an EOSC Federation by focusing on human capacity, providing uses cases, and providing a better idea of what could be offered and received. SURF proposed to set-up a working group to provide national input to the newly established Tripartite Group about the prospective Dutch node in the context of the EOSC Federation.

The last set of presentations focused on uses cases, starting with the national thematic Digital Competence Centres in the Netherlands. Joanne Yeomans of TDCC NES, Celia van Gelder of TDCC LSH, and Nils Arlinghaus of TDCC SSH explained that the Digital Competence Centres were created in order to respond to the complexity of the research data landscape, the difficulty to find the right support, and the possibility to access FAIR data at all times. There are three thematic Digital Competence Centres to support researchers, i.e. one for life sciences and health, one for social sciences and humanities, and one for natural and engineering sciences. These centres play an important role in the Dutch research community.

The second use case presented by Frans Oort from the University of Amsterdam focused on the concept of Open Access policies and the necessity to build a comprehensive Open Access infrastructure to facilitate the buy-in from the researchers. When concluding his presentation, Oort called on the Dutch Mandated Organisation to encourage the government to allocate the right funding and implement the right policies to enable Open Access at the national and international level.

During the last presentation, Matthijs van Otegem of Utrecht University told the audience that it was not possible to have a dedicated university policy, e.g. a policy of Utrecht University, linked to a national policy until it was supported by the academic community, demonstrating once again that the human factor is key.

Jet de Ranitz of SURF concluded the fruitful National Tripartite Event by highlighting that the EOSC-related efforts have been successful because the community works as a team and looks in the same direction. A lot of progress has been made in the last few years. She closed the event with these impactful words: “We started with an idea and ended-up with a community.”

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