27 January 2022 – For the next two years, EMBO will provide additional funding for EMBO Courses & Workshops that enables organizers to combine in-person with virtual meetings in hybrid formats. By offering participants the option to attend in-person or virtually, the meetings can be more inclusive, easier to access, and more environmentally friendly.
Extensive virtual conferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed challenges and limitations of virtual meetings. It has, however, also offered opportunities to explore and implement new formats, services, and platforms for virtual conferences. „EMBO will encourage organizers of EMBO Courses & Workshops to experiment with hybrid meeting formats, and extra funds will be available to cover the additional costs,” comments Fiona Watt, EMBO Director.
From now on, life scientists who apply for funding to either organize an EMBO Practical Course or Workshop in one of the 34 EMBC Member or Associate Member States, or a meeting, funded together with The Company of Biologists, in Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico or South Korea, can apply for additional funding of 10,000 euros if the meeting is in a hybrid format.
Prior to reaching this decision EMBO interviewed scientific and professional organizers as well as conference participants from different career stages and countries and consulted members of the EMBO Young Investigator Network in a survey. The aim was to learn what life scientists value most about scientific meetings, and if or how their requirements could be addressed by virtual meetings. The results are summarized in the report “The values of scientific conferences in a virtual framework: analysis and practical options”. Most interviewees and survey respondents expected that future conferences will combine the advantages of in-person and virtual meetings in hybrid formats and encouraged experimenting with the formats. Increased inclusiveness and accessibility for scientists not able to attend in-person for personal, financial or visa reasons were mentioned as the main advantages of virtual meetings. EMBO will use the findings to inform the further development of its conference funding policies.