The pandemic changed the course of our plans. In 2020, we were faced with the tough yet right decision to postpone the 5th edition of CENTRA's annual meeting, scheduled to take place in May 2020, in the picturesque city of Porto, a UNESCO's World Heritage site.
It was planned to be the first CENTRA Meeting ever held in Europe - a true sign that the collaborative and partnering framework CENTRA stands for was expanding beyond its original borders and strengthening the foundations of a truly global and impactful cyberinfrastructure research and innovation community.
Being a community of scientists and researchers, we are future-oriented by nature; and we firmly believe in the power of science and transnational collaboration to resolve today's societal challenges. With this mindset, we looked to 2021 with high hopes.
Indeed, with more people getting vaccinated against Covid-19, the possibility of coming together under the same roof seemed real. The efficacy of vaccines gave several governments a boost of confidence to ease many of the restrictive measures that had been in place for over a year and gradually open their borders to international travel. However, because the pace of vaccine rollout varies by country and the emergence of new variants increases uncertainty, many of us remain reluctant and uneasy with the idea of traveling abroad the way we did before the pandemic.
Because we care about how our community feels, we have decided to move the CENTRA 5 Meeting to a hybrid format. The city of Porto continues to offer the perfect background for a 3-day agenda, which has been reviewed to cater to three different time zones - North America, Asia and Europe and relies on digital to reach out to a geographically scattered audience.
Regardless of whether you join us in person or remotely, our drive remains unchanged: we are committed to going the extra mile and stage an event that celebrates what is foundational to our community: transnational collaborations as the way forward to transformative research-based applications.
José Manuel Mendonça,
President of INESC TEC