Going new ways

We have turned the NanoCarbon Annual Conference into a digital event

In preparing the NanoCarbon Annual Conference 2021, we asked ourselves and our partners if we should take the event online or rather skip the meeting this time. In recent years, the Annual Conference had become known as platform for making new connections, a personal meeting place for the nanocarbon community. Would it be possible to translate this special atmosphere to a digital environment?

Face-to-face events are simply not possible these days, especially not international ones, but we could not bring ourselves to cancel this important conference. So it was time to overthink well-tried arrangements, be creative and try new ways. The first big hurdle was finding the right - and stable - conference software. All of us had attended events before that had to be terminated because the conference software did not work anymore and therefore, we were anxious to run into similar difficulties. Also, the software had to fulfil several needs: our digital event should consist of keynote presentations and plenum lectures, an exhibition, poster sessions, and of course interactive coffee breaks and 1-one-1 meetings. Once we found a fitting program, work really started and to be honest, we had underestimated the effort. All of the content had to be specially edited for the conference tool. Every single item on the agenda had to be incorporated, every speaker and participant profile had to be created, every exhibitor, every poster, even every coffee break.

Once the conference environment, our digital venue, was set, it was time to train all speakers in how the program works. All participants were given time and access to configure their personal profiles where they could let the other attendees know what they were offering or looking for to allow for a successful matchmaking. Many questions were answered during these days and we made sure that someone from our team was always available to help out with first difficulties.

On March 02, the time had finally come to start the conference. And indeed, we did run into some technical problems at the beginning of the event, troubles we had not encountered in our test and practice sessions. After the problems were resolved and everyone had gotten used to being online, the event was actually great fun:

There were lectures on the main stage in webinar mode, and interactive discussion rounds that brought everyone together who shared an interest in a specific topic. Participants could check out posters, discuss directly with the authors and vote for the best poster to receive the poster award. The exhibition enabled companies to present their products and services and get in contact with the attendees. Of course, personal exchange was a very important aspect as well, either in the 1-one-1 meetings or in small groups at the coffee tables.

Main topics of the event hit a nerve with the nanocarbon community: Current news about energy storage applications were covered in two high-impact sessions of the program and sparked very active discussions between the participants and our experts. Further topics like safety and recycling or industrialisation also found a big audience. Participants even gave us the feedback that they would appreciate more time to discuss the handling of nanopowders in an industrial environment, so we added a spontaneous dicussion round that covered this topic during the lunch break.

Further feedback that we have received from our participants was very positive and mainly covered three points: the organisation and preparation of the event beforehand, support and assistance with any technical questions during the conference and the quality of new contacts made afterwards.

Based on this, our own conclusion is: The NanoCarbon Annual Conference 2021 was an online event with prime content where stakeholders of the international nanocarbon community shared their expertise and interested attendees could directly get into active discussions with the speakers and among each other. Beyond that, the personal atmosphere of getting together and getting connected was successfully translated to a digital format. We are happy that we could offer such a successful event to 85 guests from 13 countries (Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, USA, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Czech Republic, China, UK, and Japan). One participant even asked for our experience and support in setting up their own digital event because they enjoyed the NanoCarbon Annual Conference so much. Overall, it was a great experience and with some lessons learned, we would definitely do it again.

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s poster award:

1st place: P. Pötschke, J. Pionteck and B. Krause, Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden (IPF): Overview of thermoelectric materials based on polymers and CNTs

2nd place: K. Trommer and M. Lehmann, Forschungsinstitut für Leder und Kunststoffbahnen (FILK): Synergistic behaviour between CNTs and CF in polymer matrices

Save the date for the next Annual Conference: February 22-23, 2022 (online or in Würzburg)

Contact: Dr Stefanie Bertsch, stefanie.bertsch(at)nanoinitiative-bayern.de, +49 931 31-89376

Thank you very much for the very good preparation of the event and especially for the many individual consultations and support!

Dr Friedhelm Heinrich, Technische Hochschule Wildau / University of Applied Sciences

Big compliments for the organisation before and the support during the event. You managed it brilliantly.

Dipl.-Ing. Corinne Ziegler, BG BAU - Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft

Thank you for the great organisation. Our session went very smoothly and we are in contact with some interested parties.

Dipl.-Ing. Raphael Neuhaus, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA