Training week 3: Towards a circular open data ecosystem

In the heart of Italy, amidst the historical city of Ascoli Piceno, the third training week of the ODECO project unfolded from September 11th to 15th, 2023. The event, held at the University of Camerino, was more than just an academic conference; it was a thriving mix of cultures, perspectives, and ideas. Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and other participants were promised a journey that would be unlike any other thanks to its unique combination of academic rigor and cultural immersion.

Cloister at the Annunziata convent. Photo by Héctor Ochoa Ortiz (ESR13, UNICAM).

A Tapestry of Learning and Exchange

The week began with a sense of anticipation and excitement. The objectives were ambitious: to build upon the feedback from previous sessions, focus on upcoming deliverables, and foster a rich exchange of ideas, not just among the ODECO partners but with external actors as well. This integration with the 22nd International Conference on Perspectives in Business Informatics Research (BIR 2023) added an exciting dimension, offering a broader platform for engagement and learning.

Day 1: Setting the Stage for Collaboration

The first day set the tone with insightful discussions on “User needs from a governance perspective” and the intricacies of Deliverable 2.3. The sessions were more than academic discourses; they were dialogues that encouraged participation and critical thinking. The day extended beyond the confines of the conference room, as Andrea Polini led the participants on a cultural tour through Ascoli Piceno. Exploring the city’s rich history and then unwinding with a cozy dinner at the medieval-themed Pizzeria Locanda del Medioevo was the perfect mix of cultural immersion and relaxation.

ESRs writing their ideas on the whiteboard. Photo by Héctor Ochoa Ortiz (ESR13, UNICAM).

Day 2: Engaging Dialogues and Physical Challenges

The second day continued the momentum with “ESR lightning talks,” where researchers showcased their work, followed by a roundtable with data practitioners. This interactive format fostered direct engagement, allowing the ESRs to gain invaluable insights and perspectives from seasoned professionals. After a day filled with academic challenges, we took a hike up San Marco Hill, which really captured the spirit of adventure and pushing our limits that defined our week. We wrapped up the day with a dinner at Hotel Remigio I, capping off another day full of insights and discoveries.

Round table with practitioners. Photo by Umair Ahmed (ESR14, UNICAM).

Day 3: A Confluence with BIR Conference

Day three marked a seamless integration with the BIR conference. Bastiaan van Loenen, along with ESRs María Elena López Reyes and Ashraf Shaharudin, started with a keynote titled “Open Data: Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which provided an overview of the evolution and potential of open data. The day featured a diverse array of academic sessions, culminating in a wine-tasting event and a serene dinner by the beach, weaving together academic exchange and camaraderie.

ESRs and BIR attendees at the Wine Tasting social event. Photo by Héctor Ochoa Ortiz (ESR13, UNICAM).

Day 4: Deep Dives and Cultural Immersion

The fourth day brought new insights with a keynote on AI and sustainable innovation, followed by sessions on course design and EU project proposals. The day concluded with a dinner at L’Annunziata, where live music and lively conversations flowed, reflecting the week’s spirit of collaboration and community.

Social dinner with live music. Photo by Umair Ahmed (ESR14, UNICAM).

Day 5: Culmination and Recognition

The doctoral consortium dominated the concluding day, demonstrating the week’s dedication to fostering the development of future scientists. Furthermore, the hackathon served as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration. Everything reached its zenith with the dissemination of TW3 certifications, which signified not only participation but also learning and achievement.

Team Vortex Voyagers presenting their work at the Open Data Hackathon. Photo by Umair Ahmed (ESR14, UNICAM).

Reflections and Recommendations

As the week came to an end, it became evident that TW3 was a journey rather than merely a training week. A journey that took us through academic challenges, practical insights, and a rich tapestry of cultural experiences. The feedback from participants highlighted the value of in-person interactions, the appeal of practical activities, and the importance of engaging with external experts. These insights are not just reflections but driving factors for future training weeks, guiding the way towards even more enriching and effective learning experiences.

The Impact of Cultural and Social Integration

The social events, meticulously planned for each evening, played a crucial role in the week’s success. From the historical tour of Ascoli Piceno to the challenging hike up San Marco Hill, and the delightful wine tasting at Velenosi, each event was carefully crafted to foster team building and networking. These activities were not mere diversions; they were integral to the learning experience, providing a relaxed environment for reflection, discussion, and the formation of lasting bonds.

The Role of External Experts and Practitioners

The involvement of external experts and practitioners brought a real-world perspective to the discussions. Their participation in talks and roundtable discussions provided the ESRs with a rare opportunity to validate their ideas and research against the backdrop of industry and governmental insights. This interaction was invaluable, as it allowed the young researchers to refine their ideas and gain a broader understanding of the practical implications of their work.

The Challenge of Balancing Diverse Interests

One of the key challenges in organizing such a comprehensive program was catering to the diverse interests and backgrounds of the participants. The feedback underscored this challenge, with some activities ranking high for certain ESRs while not resonating as much with others. This diversity of interests, while a challenge, also underscored the richness of the ODECO project’s community. It highlighted the need for a balanced program that includes both general presentations and more technical, deep-dive sessions.

Looking Forward: Towards Future Training Weeks

As the participants departed from Ascoli Piceno, they carried with them not just the knowledge and insights gained but also memories and connections that would last a lifetime. The third training week of the ODECO project was a testament to the power of collaborative learning and the importance of integrating academic pursuits with cultural and social experiences.

The third training week of the ODECO project was a reflection of the broader adventure in the field of open data ecosystems. It was an adventure full of learning, creativity, and teamwork—all essential to the continuous investigation of this ever-evolving subject. The knowledge and insights gained from Ascoli Piceno will surely operate as a beacon for the project as it anticipates future training sessions, showing the way towards ever more profound and rewarding educational opportunities.

Group photo at the hiking social event.


Umair Ahmed (UNICAM)

Héctor Ochoa Ortiz (UNICAM)