The inception workshop was held at the Royal Veterinary College in London, United Kingdom, on 22-23 October 2012. The 20 participants were animal health scientists, economists, executive directors and project coordinators and trainers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Belgium and Turkey.
The inception workshop was designed to acquaint a broad spectrum of partners with the project, to get to know each other and to consult on planned activities and next steps. The objectives for the workshop were
- Familiarisation with the project activities and outputs
- Agreement on dates, responsibilities for the initial 12 months
- Establish dates for the annual general meetings
- Agreement communication with non-associated partners
- Presentation of the website and agreement on the population of the pages
The host partner presented the background to the project highlighting how “human lives are enhanced by the use of animals” and that livestock are a fundamental aspect of societies. Dr Jonathan Rushton emphasised that there is a need to recognise that the role of livestock in society is evolving driven by the needs of people and the presence of disease and that these changes are at an historical high across the world creating positives in terms of greater food supply and negatives in terms of environmental impacts, disease emergence and the poor incorporation of poor people into the systems. NEAT aims to tackle this societal resource allocation and socio-economic challenge by fostering interchange and collaboration between education and training institutions and a multitude of end-users to strengthen and enhance the use of economics in animal health in higher education, research and professional environments.
The coordinator gave an overview of the aim of the project, the structure of the consortium and the planned activities. All work package leaders presented the key aims, activities, ideas, collaborations, and timelines for their work packages mapping the field (WP2), horizon scanning and identification of teaching needs (WP3), development and testing of teaching materials and innovative teaching tools (WP4), dissemination and exploitation (WP5), and evaluation of NEAT and its output. Further, key management rules and activities, in particular reporting and financial guidelines were presented.
Participants agreed on the focus of the network and established action points for the first phase of the project. Key discussion points were the need to bring together education setters, education providers, education receivers and receivers of the educated to be able to exploit opportunities, engage with the people who would need economics applied to animal health and to add value to the education of animal health professionals in economics. An important discussion point was how to structure the online survey with inputs from WP2 and WP3, what groups to target and languages to cover, and whether to complement it by interviews of key individuals and focus groups.
In summary, the main conclusions were:
- Specification and allocation of short- and medium term tasks (e.g. documentation, website, glossary)
- Identification of short- and medium term deadlines
- Agreement on network focus and confidentiality issues
- Outline of the format, language, target topics and target groups for the survey
- Description of important linkages to other networks and/or activities (e.g. Conferences on Veterinary Education)
All presentations, financial guidelines and detailed minutes (including action points) for partners can be found in the NEAT Document Management System (DMS).