Kicking off NFDI4Chem

The NFDI4Chem consortium met in October to mark the official start of the project.

On 14 and 15 October, the members of the NFDI4Chem consortium met virtually to kick off the national research data infrastructure for the German chemistry community (NFDI4Chem). Around 50 representatives of the consortium’s 27 partners gathered to present and discuss the workplan for the five years that lie ahead.

After its successful application in the first NFDI selection round, funding for the NFDI4Chem consortium started on 1 October 2020. Exactly two weeks into the project, on 14 and 15 October, the initiative assembled its members for a virtual Kick-Off. While a physical meeting had originally been scheduled to take place in the Rosensäle of the Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU), developments in the ongoing pandemic led the organisers to adapt an online format. The meeting, which was opened enthusiastically by the president of the FSU Jena, Prof. Walter Rosenthal, brought together around 50 members from across all 27 partners of the project.

Amongst the participants was the director of the NFDI, York Sure-Vetter, who presented the collaborative and interdisciplinary context of the overarching NFDI initiative. The NFDI, which recently became an “eingetragener Verein” (e.V.), is also a mandated member of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

Completing the introductions with a presentation on the mission of NFDI4Chem, namely building an open and FAIR infrastructure for research data management in chemistry, the consortium speakers Christoph Steinbeck and Oliver Koepler set the scene for the core part of the meeting, the presentation and discussion of the task areas. In short and succinct ignite talks the TA leaders gave overviews of the individual work plans: TA 2 Smart labs (Nicole Jung), TA 3 Repositories (Felix Bach & Matthias Razum), TA4 Standards (Steffen Neumann & Christoph Steinbeck), TA5 Community (Johannes Liermann & Sonja Herres-Pawlis) und TA6 Synergies (Oliver Koepler). With time as the limiting factor at the Kick-Off, all TA leads are now planning individual meetings with the task area members to discuss in depth the next steps to embark on realising the project.

The second day of the Kick-Off meeting dealt with administrative aspects of the project. The speaker Christoph Steinbeck and the project manager Christian Popp gave an overview of the structural aspects, updates on the progress of the consortium agreement as well as financial matters concerning the distribution of funds. They also discussed with the consortium the tools and communication channels they intend to use.

The success of NFDI4Chem will greatly depend on effective interaction with existing national and international efforts, as well as close collaboration within the NFDI. With this in mind, the last leg of the Kick-Off journey comprised of a presentation from Florian Schön (RWTH Aachen, TA5) on national initiatives and networking maps and a talk by Oliver Koepler about the cross-cutting topics that unify all NFDI consortia.

The NFDI4Chem Kick-Off meeting, which had also featured interactive coffee breaks and a social, albeit virtual evening gathering with beer and wine, closed with a final discussion round. The NFDI4Chem partners are now busy filling the approximately 40 positions that are funded by the project. While a handful of people have taken up their work already, recruiting the workforce that is necessary to realise the initiative’s ambitious plans, which you can find described in detail here (RIO article), will likely continue well into 2021.