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COMET Mid-Term Evaluation at SBA Research

On Tuesday, June 16th, 2020, our scientific work in our flagship activity, COMET, was evaluated by an international jury of experts.

Due to the all-too-well known COVID-19 restrictions, the whole event had been moved to the virtual realm. That is to say, almost. It turns out that even a virtual “site visit” – allowing international reviewers to participate from the comfort of their own homes (although in relative terms, as the time zone differences meant that some colleagues had to burn their midnight oil) – required a big meeting room and about 15 people on-site, which one might expect to be a noisy environment. Not in this case. Fully aware of the high-sensitivity microphones on each table, every person on-site reached a new level of stillness. The proverbial pin would have been heard, had anyone dared to drop it. Sudden movements occurred only in case of emergencies, such as closing a window as fast as humanly possible because of a a car siren, or hushing people who were bold enough to whisper a few words to each other. An often very entertaining live ticker conveyed everything to our colleagues in home office. Humorous elements aside, the excellent technical infrastructure and the reliability of the people being on call ensured a smooth execution.

We are proud to say that this level of commitment and focus paid off. The setup and presentations on the day of the evaluation were well received by our reviewers, and we got multiple explicit commendations for our preparatory work. This included a website for our reviewers providing detailed information about our research and further work and featured several 10-minute videos – in which we invested a lot of energy and enthusiasm – to introduce the center as a whole as well as the individual research groups. While we always welcome the possibility to personally meet the reviewers and FFG staff on such occasions, we are very happy that we successfully conveyed SBA Research’s working atmosphere and overall motivation through digital means.