With some relief I can start my latest New Year message without emphasising the impact of the pandemic on our plans and activities. Of course, Covid is still with us and we remain cautious but everywhere I see a growing confidence and a return to something that resembles normality. And I would say that we have a lot to be confident about this year. ERF2023 is just a few weeks away, so very soon we will be able to meet friends, supporters and colleagues again face-to-face, this time in Odense.
The ERF programme is rich and varied, the organising team from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and euRobotics have been working hard and creatively to plan it and I think it will be a spectacular success. If any of our members haven’t signed up yet and you have the time to be in Odense in mid-March, now is your last chance to take advantage of the Early Bird rates. I look forward to seeing everyone there.
We have other reasons to feel confident this year, too. We continue to press ahead with our strategy to establish fresh alliances. Building both on our relationship with CLAIRE and our deep, hands-on experience with the RODIN project, euRobotics is now actively working to provide a sustainable path for the DIH Networks. I have good reason to believe that this work will lead to benefits for the DIH Networks and euRobotics alike.
Speaking of alliances, we will continue to provide the necessary drive and energy to help Adra establish itself. Meanwhile, we will not hesitate to take fresh opportunities to form links with other partner organisations, where these have the potential to help euRobotics to fulfil its own mission and objectives and to further the interests of the European robotics sector.
I am also confident that this year we will be able to make good use of the European Robotics Leagues brand, which is one of our core assets as an association. Our members can expect this to feature prominently this autumn, when we will support a major event in Milton Keynes, UK in September.
Much of the life of euRobotics and the participation of our members in it, takes place within the Topic Groups. This year we expect to deliver a new portal, making online access to the Topic Groups much smoother. This, plus the much-anticipated third edition of the TG Summit later this year, should underline that the Topic Groups are in a healthy state – another reason for confidence. Again, I would like to thank all the TG coordinators who have given their time to us and enriched our eco-system with their enthusiasm.
Looking towards the end of this new year we think once again about European Robotics Week (ERW). We hope to build on the modest-in-scale but well-delivered hybrid Central Event that took place in Hannover last November. As always, the real reach and richness of ERW lies in the variety of locally-organised events organised by our ERW national coordinators (NC) network. I would like to offer my personal thanks to the NCs for keeping ERW alive and on behalf of euRobotics I wish them luck in returning to the levels of activity seen in pre-pandemic years.
We are approaching the end of another ‘association year’, which runs for the period between our General Assemblies (GA). We will hold elections to fill newly vacant positions on our Board of Directors (we will communicate separately about the details and the process). Meanwhile, I thank the individuals on our present Board and in particular on our Executive Team, who give their time so generously. Their commitment should not be taken for granted and they each deserve recognition for it. I encourage all members to consider getting involved to help direct the association, meet its challenges and exploit its opportunities.
Finally and importantly, our Office team has undergone several changes in the last couple of years, but I am confident that among those who now support us, we have a combination of effort, energy and expertise that will serve euRobotics and its members well during the year to come.
So I hope you will share with me a sense of confidence for the year ahead. In that spirit I wish you all a good start to the year and a successful 2023. Be happy – and stay healthy!