So, this happened. The first ever Biotop meeting took place in Villach last weekend (28th-30th July 2017). Around 20 people who had each individually voiced their interest in joining the Biotop family but had (bar a few exceptions) never met in person descended on our small town to forge new friendships, set up collaborations and get some projects off the ground.
People came to Villach from various different places including London, Oxford, Munich, Vienna, Graz, Salzburg (some participants from New York and Oxford joined the meeting online) and brought expertise in a variety of backgrounds with them.
The first evening of the meeting was dedicated to networking and introducing people to each other. Early the next morning work began. Points to discuss were first drawn up by collecting from each attendee relevant questions that they hoped would be answered in the course of the meeting. A lot of the questions were concerned with the identity of Biotop as a network, which we spent the next couple of hours discussing. We discussed levels of individual commitments, management strategies, funding, ways of collaborating remotely and the frequency of future in-person meetings. Discussion in small groups continued during the lunch break and were followed by an afternoon session dedicated to individual projects that will be conducted within Biotop.
We heard some super-interesting early ideas on projects involving container labs, biodiversity monitoring using DNA barcoding, network analysis of historical economic data and gamification in its digitalisation, as well as a science-based children’s book on colours. In small groups these projects ideas were developed further and future steps laid out.
To conclude the meeting, we enjoyed a lovely conference dinner in the heart of Villach before people departed again early on Sunday morning, hopefully to return again very soon!
This meeting was made possible by generous financial support from the city of Villach (in the form of a project development grant). For the kick-off of the meeting on Friday, wine was generously sponsored by Weingut Machherndl, and Italian food was kindly provided by Il Gusto, an Italian Deli based in Rosegg.