Sunday, November 4, 2018

Presenting DataBio at the 5th Panhellenic Congress on the Development of Greek Agriculture

One of the things I did during the recent 5th Panhellenic Congress on the Development of Greek Agriculture was to talk about the DataBio Horizon 2020 project and its smart farming pilots in Greece during an interactive session.

The session was organized by DataBio project partner GAIA Epicheirein and supported by NEUROPUBLIC. It aimed at Greek agrifood stakeholder interested in learning about smart farming and the benefits of digital agriculture. It took place on the 25th of October 2018, right after the GAIA Congress; in this way, we ensured that participants of the Congress would also attend the DataBio session, along with other selected participants who were invited.

Presenting the smart farming pilots in Greece during the session

I had the pleasure to be the sole speaker of the event: I started the DataBio session with a presentation of the project, focusing on its aims, objectives, expected outcomes and ongoing activities. After this introduction, I continued with a presentation of the smart farming pilots of the project in Greece, which allowed the participants to get practical information on the crops and locations in Greece where the pilots take place, as well as the expected benefits from each pilot – also mentioning the role of technology and data in each case.

The pilots on olive trees and grapes were of special interest to the participants, as both are among the main crops of Crete.

A big "Thank you" to the audience for their participation after a long and tiring Congress day

The last part of the session was a discussion between DataBio members and the audience, on various aspects of the project. The participants expressed their interest in smart farming and the benefits that they can reap through its adoption, with some of them even expressing their interest in participating in the pilots. Face to face discussions also took place at the DataBio booth with individual participants after the end of the session.

All in all, it was another interesting experience; it was great talking about smart farming to people who showed real interest in the transition from traditional agriculture to smart farming (and that's why they attended the session after a day-long Congress). I also enjoyed the collaboration with the GAIA Epicherein team organizing the session as well as with project partner Anna Bozza from CIAOTECH who spent the whole day at the DataBio booth, informing Congress participants about the project and focusing on the smart farming pilots, which were of special interest to the participants. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

The SmartAgriHubs Horizon 2020 project is launched - Press Release

Press release of SmartAgriHubs, a brand-new, ambitious EU project that NEUROPUBLIC is a partner of and gaiasense among the Digital Innovation Hubs.


EU accelerates the digital transformation of the European agri-food sector


Brussels, 01 November 2018

The SmartAgriHubs project enables a broad digital transformation of the European farming and food sector. With a €20 million budget co-funded by the European Union, the project aims to build an extensive pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs). The project starts today on November 1st, 2018.

SmartAgriHubs: 140 Digital Innovation Hubs, 9 regional cluster & 28 flagship innovation experiments

The project has the potential to be a real game changer in the adoption of digital solutions by the farming sector. Recent initiatives showed the eagerness of the sector to seize the opportunities offered by ICT, network and data–oriented technologies. However, current available applications are still fragmented and mainly used by a small group of early-adopters. 
SmartAgriHubs will leverage, strengthen and connect local DIHs, and 20 000 Competence Centres (CCs) throughout Europe. SmartAgriHubs has already put together a large network of 140 DIHs by building on its existing projects and ecosystems such as Internet of Food and Farm (IoF2020). All DIHs are aligned with 9 regional clusters, which are led by organizations that are closely related to national or regional digitization initiatives and funds. This multi-layer approach is supported by 28 Innovation experiments in which ideas, concepts and prototypes are further developed and introduced into the market.
More than 2 million farms are expected to be involved through 4000 experiments, bringing the process of digitization closer to the specific needs of the farmers. Demystifying digitization is vital to the project, helping farmers and their businesses to achieve real and attainable results.

A multi-stakeholder approach

SmartAgriHubs brings together different expertise and involves a broad value-chain network covering all EU member states. The consortium includes a vast network of start-ups, SMEs, business and service providers, technology experts and end-users. End-users from the agri-food sector are at the heart of the project and the driving force of the digital transformation.

Strong focus on communication, training and stakeholder engagement 

SmartAgriHubs aspires to create an interconnected ecosystem where stakeholders work together in the different phases of innovation from early research to application on farms. Therefore, promoting stakeholder dialogue and providing timely information on progresses and achieved results lies at the heart of the project’s communication activities. To involve, train and inform its audience, several tools will be put in place by the consortium throughout the duration of the project. For instance, in the innovation portal information will be easily accessible by farmers and their businesses, creating an effective, efficient and satisfactory user experience. A catalogue for farmers and agribusiness is also foreseen, mapping the existing digital technology field, to exchange best practices among the network.

SmartAgriHubs will not only increase the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s agri-food sector. It will become the 4th industrial revolution that will strategically re-orient the digital European agricultural innovation ecosystem towards excellence and success. Together with our partners we believe SmartAgriHubs will unlock the potential of digitization by creating a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs, organizing an inclusive ecosystem around them and fostering them to achieve their full innovation acceleration capacity.” 
George Beers, Project Manager at Wageningen University & Research / SmartAgriHubs Project Coordinator

Key facts at a glance:

  • Instrument: Horizon 2020, DT-RUR-12-2-18: ICT Innovation for agriculture
  • Contribution of the European Union: €20 million
  • Duration: 4 years, 2018-2022
  • Consortium: 108 initial partners, possibility to extend through open calls  
  • 140 digital innovation hubs, 9 regional cluster & 28 flagship innovation experiments
  • Bridge public-private funding by mobilising additional funding (30 M€)
  • Strong focus on establishing a sustainable network of DIHs with viable business models and investment funds

Monday, October 29, 2018

My take on the 5th Panhellenic Congress on the Development of Greek Agriculture

The 5th Panhellenic Conference on the Development of Greek Agriculture was the latest of the series of Conferences organized by GAIA Epicheirein in collaboration with various organizations. It took place at the Candia Maris Resort & Spa Crete, an impressive complex at Heraklion, Crete.

This year's theme was "Digitization: The Future of European Agriculture" - you can read a sort overview here (English).



I found myself contributing to the coverage of the event, being a part of the social media team (and focusing on my favorite Twitter). Using the hashtag #GAIACongress18, we created a cloud of tweets while an additional cloud was created through the #GAIACongress2018 hashtag by third parties (I admit we hadn't circulated the hashtag of the event beforehand so this was a minor casualty). 

My workflow was pretty much a typical one: I was taking photos of the event with my smartphones and kept tweeting using my Bluetooth keyboard which was paired with them. I also used my 11,6-inch tablet with its keyboard for managing the Facebook pages and responding to emails.

What I (also) did during the Congress

On top of that, I was around the gaiasense booth that was available at the exhibition room of the Congress; we had a TV screen for playing the gaiasense videos, a huge banner, numerous leaflets and of course our loyal telemetric station (which tends to be around in all recent gaiasense-related event, from the Thessaloniki International Fair 2018 and on!). I had the opportunity to explain the gaiasense concept to participants of the event and talk about the features of our custom telemetric stations.


Among these, I managed to find some time to be around our DataBio Horizon 2020 Big Data Lighthouse Project stand and help our charming Italian partner Anna Bozza from CiaoTech to keep up with questions and requests about the project from Greek stakeholders (many of which were not exactly fluent in English). The stand was really well-thought, with project dissemination material (T-shirts and hats stood out of the crowd!) and drew the attention of various participants of the event.

In between, I got engaged in discussions with friends and colleagues, talked about gaiasense and smart farming in Greece to media, arrange an interview with the national TV channel ERT the day after (a challenging task, considering it should take place about 100 km away from our hotel and I had no car or other mean of transportation available), give a hand to the dissemination of our projects during the Congress (such as our Greek ones SmartPeach and SymbIoT, and our LIFE GAIA Sense EU one) and last but not least, deliver a presentation about our DataBio project, focusing on the Greek pilots! 

My DataBio presentation


Right after the end of the main event (the Congress), GAIA Epicheirein, CiaoTech and NEUROPUBLIC had arranged a brief session focusing on our DataBio Horizon 2020 Lighthouse project at the main room of the Congress. I had prepared a set of slides about the project itself, its aims and objectives and work so far and a second set on the smart farming pilots taking place in Greece - which NEUROPUBLIC coordinates and implements. 



Despite the fact that the session took place by the end of a long day, the audience was more than we initially expected, consisting of various types of Greek stakeholders (farmers and agricultural cooperatives, agricultural advisors and agronomists, other agrifood chain partners). The presentation went pretty well, I received a number of questions during the session and got into related discussions afterwards.

Wrapping up

It was surely a long and busy day, with many tasks running at the same time, various requests to be fulfilled and many-many discussions with stakeholders. In the end we managed to keep things under control and deliver what we had to deliver (plus arrange some things for the next day, like the aforementioned TV interview).

By the end of the day, we had to disassemble everything, pack it up (including posters, roll-ups, banners, leaflets and even our pretty heavy telemetric station), load everything on our pick-up truck and catch up with the rest of colleagues for a nice, traditional Cretan dinner in a small village outside Heraklion.

We knew that we had accomplished our goals during these two days at Crete (the gaiasense event and the 5th GAIA Congress) and this made everything easier for us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

gaiasense at Heraklion: A challenging but successful event

On October 24th 2018, NEUROPUBLIC organized an open event for the gaiasense smart farming system at Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion, Crete. The aim of the event was to present various aspects of the gaiasense system (e.g. technological, business, policy & CAP) to stakeholders from Crete.

Background

There was a lot of preparation behind the event: Presentations were made from scratch with the help of a (talented) graphic designer and multiple rehearsals took place before the event. Demos of the gaiasense applications and tools were prepared, based on predefined scenarios (to save time). A new (stunning) video was prepared highlighting the concept of gaiasense and various activities related to its operation, media coverage was arranged, invitations were sent to key stakeholders and a ticketing system was set up for organizing the attendance in the best possible way. The agenda was carefully thought and prepared, ensuring that representatives from all aspects of gaiasense would have the time to talk and discuss their contributions.


We even had our famous telemetric station packed and loaded onto the gaiasense pickup truck (and then unpacked it and set it up at the event room - a really challenging task!), loads of posters, roll-ups, banners, leaflets and other dissemination material packed, unpacked and set up as well; everything set up in a couple of hours.

The event

I admit it; participation was higher than I expected: We had booked a room seating about 150 people and by the beginning of the event we already had people standing and leaning on the walls. There were mostly agricultural advisors, farmers and agricultural cooperatives, and other stakeholders interested in innovation in the agricultural sector.

(Partial) view of the audience from the panelists' table
Everything went smooth and according to the plan; of course, there were some minor glitches here and there (e.g. a specific app wouldn't work over the existing WiFi network so we had to skip it at the last rehearsal), but this is expected during a live event. The sound was fine, videos went out great, the audience was really interested in the presentations and there were some questions after each session.

What made the event more interesting was the fact that we had decided to skip the typical set of (usually boring) slides for the description of the four dimensions of gaiasense - we also skipped the typical sitting /standing on the podium and we went for a PechaKutcha style of presentation, so we had the opportunity to look at our audience instead of the laptop screen, using a wireless microphone.


The specific session was apparently my favorite one; not only because it was me and my colleagues working closely and presenting the gaiasense dimensions in a complimentary way, but also due to the fact that it was really different than the rest. I personally had the opportunity to present not one but two of the gaiasense dimensions - and right after that, to demonstrate the main gaiasense software tools. It was a real marathon for me, but I think it came out pretty well.


It was also interesting that aspects of gaiasense like its role in the new CAP as an instrument supporting the implementation of its measures, its role as a tool for agricultural advisors (agricultural advisory services will be a key component of the new CAP) and its European dimension were also presented by colleagues and collaborators.

Wrapping up

In less than 2,5 hours we managed to present almost everything related to the gaiasense smart farming system, including the technological, the methodological, the scientific and the policy aspects of gaiasense. The pace was so quick, based on short sessions and the constant change of speakers, that the audience could not help but follow the flow. Their interest was expressed in the form of discussions that took place right after the event. It was a really dense period and an even more dense event - but it went really well and this made up for it.

The end of the event was not the end of the activities: We had to pack everything and send it over to another hotel, where the 5th Panhellenic Congress for the Development of Greek Agriculture would take place (and gaiasense would also be represented with its own booth, posters, roll-ups and other dissemination material). Press releases had to be prepared and sent to media, photos had to be organized and I also had yet another presentation to make - this time on the DataBio project and its smart farming pilots in Greece (that NEUROPUBLIC is responsible for).

It was a day to remember, that's for sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Presenting the benefits of smart farming for the olive sector at Copa Cogeca

I was excited.

I was invited to the meeting of Copa Cogeca's Working Party on Olive Oil and Table Olives, to make a presentation on how smart farming can benefit the olive sector. It was a great opportunity for me to present the work that we are doing with NEUROPUBLIC's gaiasense smart farming system. A Facebook reminder (the "On this day" feature) informed me that it was only a couple of years and two days ago when I first attended a Copa Cogeca event (the annual Farmers Congress, that was collocated with the GAIA Congress in Athens, Greece).

I was stressed.

The meeting would take place on the day that we were submitting a pretty important proposal for a project to take place in the Region of Western Greece. I was responsible for the communication with the partners of the proposal, the collection of all necessary documentation and certificates from their side (both in digital and printed version) - and since we are talking about Greece, you can only imagine the amount of paperwork required...

I was also responsible for uploading all necessary information on the web-based proposal submission platform - for all partners - and in general for the successful submission of the proposal, in full and on time. On top of all that, I needed to find time for preparing my slides for the Copa Cogeca meeting.

Both were equally important; I needed to find time for both.

What I did was to work on the submission until Friday, ensuring that everything would be ready for its submission on Monday, leaving only minor parts to be completed by my (always willing to help) colleagues. Then I could allocate time over the weekend for my slides; a challenging task, considering that weekends are usually full of errands and time with the family.

Being at Copa Cogeca's premises is a privilege!
On Thursday and Friday, I made use of my commute time to work (a good 2-hours daily) for building the structure of my presentation. I also filled parts of it with existing material, carefully crafted by me or my colleagues. I knew I had limited time to prepare my presentation and therefore I needed to get the most out of existing resources, making sure that they would be a perfect fit for the specific purpose.
 
Over the weekend, I made good use of my free time and materialized what I had planned in paper during the previous days. And it worked. I soon had a presentation consisting of more than 20 slides, telling the story I wanted to tell. I reviewed it a couple of times, made some revisions and I was ready to go. The (relatively) long travel time also allowed me to go through it and make sure that I would deliver it in a decent way :-)

When I finally reached the Copa Cogeca headquarters at the center of Brussels, I felt confident; I had gone through the slides several times, I had my story ready and some additional points to mention without additional slides. Meeting my colleagues from Greece right before the meeting helped me relax and feel more comfortable.

The presentation went pretty well, with an audience of about 20 people - mostly representatives of olive cooperatives and organizations from Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal), as well as Croatia. It took me about 20 minutes to make my presentation and to provide some additional information during the interactive session right after; the parallel translation in the languages spoken within the Party helped things a lot. It was a great experience for me and therefore I would like to thank the Chair of Copa Cogeca's Working Party on Olive Oil and Table Olives and the rest of the Working Part for the kind invitation.

Some interesting info on the trip itself

It was a one-day trip to Brussels, and since it was booked on the last minute, I didn't have the luxury of many options - and none of the available options was a direct flight. Instead of taking the 1-stop flight at 06.00, I opted for the 2-stop flight with Swiss Air at 06.30, which allowed me to rest for 30 precious minutes more in the morning. However, this would be tricky, as I heavily depended on the accuracy of the flights (and my latest experiences were not exactly positive). I arrived at 12.45 in Brussels and at about 13.45 at the Copa Cogeca premises, early enough to catch up with the meeting starting at 14.30.

The flight back home was easier, with just one stop in Zurich. I am glad that everything went well travel-wise, so I was able to reach my destination on time.

I finished my day having taken 5 flights, 1 bus (to the Copa Cogeca premises), 1 train (to Brussels airport) and a short drive to and from Athens airport; on top of that I walked more than 5 km in total in between my destinations, according to my smartwatch :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

My five days at the Thessaloniki International Fair 2018

Between 8-12 of September 2018, I had the opportunity to participate (as an exhibitor, on behalf of NEUROPUBLIC) in the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), the largest exhibition event in Greece and one of the largest in the wider area. It was an interesting experience as it was not an (agricultural) domain specific event; rather a Fair to promote latest advances in various sectors (including agriculture).


Our aim (and stand) aimed at informing the TIF visitors about our gaiasense smart farming system and other innovations of NEUROPUBLIC, such as the NeuroCode.

We were at Pavillion 15, Stand 15 and the stand was impressive: It was huge, it had everything needed for the occasion, like a sofa and comfortable armchairs for having relaxed discussions with potential customers, stands for our printed material and memorabilia, TV screens playing videos about gaiasense, roll-up posters, printed design graphics on the walls (and even on the ceiling!), and a multi-sided informational construction. However, the main attraction of our Stand was one of the gaiasense telemetric stations, available for the first time to the general public in a show case, with lots of information about its components and features.

Me and my colleagues had the opportunity to talk with many visitors of the Exhibition, including researchers (interested in the concept of gaiasense), electrical engineers (interested in the technical aspects of the station). farmers and members of agricultural cooperatives (interested in adopting gaiasense). In all cases, we held (short and longer) discussions, provided details and gave away leaflets for future reference. We made contacts and kept their details for following up,

It was a challenging task: the exhibition was open daily between 09.00-21.00 and we had other ongoing tasks as well (e.g. I was trying to keep our social media channels updated and maintain communication with potential partners of a number of proposals that we were working on at that time) but we manage to accomplish our mission in the best possible way.

Looking forward to the next one :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Another formatting issue in a project deliverable: Heading numbers blacked out

I have been working with project deliverables since I started working with projects (which is back to 2009, if I recall well) and since then I have authored and contributed to dozens of them; not only I was usually the one to transform ideas and bullets into text (I love writing texts anyway!), but I was also one of those paying attention to the details, and when it comes to document formatting, this is something that can make the difference. The latter made me one of the frequent deliverable reviewers, too :-)

Why am I writing this? I recently received yet another project deliverable (a dissemination one) for comments and contributions - on top of that, I noticed an annoying issue in the numbering of Level 3 and Level 4 headings, which caused the corresponding heading numbers to black out.

Image source: http://tomtalks.uk/2015/06/fixing-microsoft-word-blacked-out-numbers/

My first move was to inspect the formatting of the specific headings (right click on the Heading 3 -> Modify); however, I could not find anything strange there. Then, I just Googled it: It seems that it is a pretty common issue, caused by a corrupt template. The proposed solution was the following:
  1. Put your cursor on the heading just right of the black box
  2. Use the left arrow key on your keyboard to move left until the black box turns grey
  3. Use the keyboard combination ctrl+shift+s, the dialog "Apply Styles" should appear
  4. In this box, click "reapply"
I did that, but I had to do it for any Level 3 and Level 4 heading, which was time consuming; then I saw a user proposing another step:

5. Go to a fixed issue, then right-click on the corresponding Heading button on the top menu of MS Word and click on "Update Heading 3 to match selection"

That was quick! I felt pretty good about the solution, saved my document and exited. However, when I opened it again just to make sure, the issue was still there, with the bad formatting still around! No matter how many times I tried, the issue would re-appear each time I opened the document. 

And then, I thought I should try something (not suggested by any user):

I fixed the issues, saved the document as .doc (not .docx, as the original) and check. Indeed, the issue was gone (along with some details of the tracking changes but not the tracking changes itself; however, this was pretty minor, as the revisions were still marked and plus I was informed about that before I saved the document in .doc). The only thing I had to do was to save the document as .docx again and check it for the last time - and it was ok!

I was just pissed off, because it was a pretty busy day and I had to spend time on this workaround... :-X

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Participation in the RDA Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) Pre-Plenary Meeting 11

The meeting of Research Data Alliance's Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) took place between 19-20 of March 2018 in Berlin. I was excited to be able to join the meeting - my first RDA meeting after quite a long time - and see how things are moving in the IGAD, a group that I have spent quite a long time working with; both the Interest Group and its Working Groups.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to the theme “The FAIR principles to all elements of the research process in agricultural sciences and related disciplines”. I represented NEUROPUBLIC and presented the way in which our H2020 Big Data Lighthouse project DataBio project takes into consideration the FAIR Principles in its data management workflows and more specifically, in the case of the smart farming pilots that NEUROPUBLIC is coordinating. Apart from that, I had the opportunity to see the approach of other organizations in adopting the FAIR Principle in their cases, which was extremely interesting.



(the slides are also available through the GODAN Gateway of F1000 Research)

During the second day of the meeting, parallel sessions took place, focusing on different aspects of the IGAD main themes - most of them being the ongoing work of its Working Groups. I started by attending the first part of the AgriSemantics discussion but was curious to see the work of other groups so I also participated to the discussions of the Capacity Development for Agriculture (which blends my interest in Open Data with training activities) and the On-Farm Data Sharing (which I found really interesting and close to NEUROPUBLIC's work with smart farming) Working Groups.

Now, I guess that what I have to do is to align the work that I am doing with NEUROPUBLIC with all these advances taking places at a global level - and this might be a challenging task but it will worth the effort.

All in all, I felt like being home meeting all this long-time friends and collaborators from global organizations like UN FAO (Imma, Caterina and Karna), CGIAR and its research centers (Richard from CIMMYT), GFAR (Valeria), Wageningen UR (Hugo Besemer), INRA (Odile, Esther and Sophie), GODAN (Martin and Suchith), Johannes Keizer and Armando Stellato (I hope I am not forgetting anyone) and get to meet people passionate about their work in agricultural information and knowledge management like Ilkay (FAO - she did a wonderful job regarding the documentation of the meeting!), Chipo (CTA), Diane (GODAN) and Cynthia (USDA) - they were too many to name them all. It was great discussing with these passionate people about how access to open data in agriculture can be improved, how we can better organize all this wealth of information, knowledge and data and how we can build meaningful data-powered solutions for agriculture at a global level.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Attending the Smart AKIS 3rd Innovation Workshop

Earlier today I had the opportunity to be among the selected audience of the Smart AKIS 3rd Innovation Workshop in Greece, which took place at the premises of the Agricultural University of Athens. Among the participants of the Workshop there were academia (researchers working with smart farming and/or precision agriculture), representatives from farmers' associations and private companies, students etc.

The event aimed at providing an overview of various aspects of smart farming in Greece and was well-structured: Starting with a presentation of the Smart AKIS project and its platform, it moved to various funding opportunities available to smart farming stakeholders and then to pitching of innovative ideas based on smart farming that were discussed in the previous Smart AKIS workshop and implemented in the meantime. Since the implementation involved (in most cases) both research organizations and private companies (along with farmers of course!), this brought the EIP-AGRI's Operational Groups in my mind.

This feeling was further enhanced by the discussions that followed and concluded the event; the audience was split in three groups and discussed about the previously described ideas that would address real issues that farmers face. The fact that each group included at least one representative of a farmers' association was critical; I was lucky to be in the same group with Mark Legas from 7Grapes/Pegasus cooperative and he was a real source of inspiration, matching existing issues with potential solutions on the fly. The most prominent solutions will be presented and discussed during a Pan-European workshop of the project, to take place in the near future.

There was a common understanding (and agreement) among the participants that we need to (and can) produce more with less, that technology alone cannot provide the solutions for the existing food production issues and that research is a vital part of the solution, along with technology and data. Farmers understand that they do not have full control of the way they apply inputs in their fields and admit that they would appreciate support in the form of advice in their decision-making processes that affect their production. Researchers know how their scientific knowledge can contribute and companies have the expertise to implement this by transforming it into advice and apply it through innovative technologies.

Overall, it was a great event (congratulations to the organizers!), engaging various actors of the agrifood chain, and I was glad to be a part of it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Participation in the Agrotica 2018 International Fair

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the 27th International Fair for Agricultural Machinery, Equipment & Supplies Agrotica 2018, as a member of the NEUROPUBLIC team working with the gaiasense smart farming system. We are talking about a huge exhibition focused on agriculture, with thousands of visitors of all kinds - from farmers looking for the new machinery to meet their needs to hi-tech company representatives looking for collaboration opportunities with other companies. I participated in the four days of the event (Thessaloniki, between 1-4/2/2018), along with colleagues from NEUROPUBLIC.



This year, NEUROPUBLIC worked jointly with GAIA EPICHEIREIN towards a joint booth for gaiasense, and the result was outstanding; it was a huge booth, consisting of an informational desk, several tables with chairs for discussions with potential customers, two screens with video playback at the sides and a main video wall for the gaiasense (and other) presentations taking place during Agrotica 2018. On top of that, gaiasense had a 4-hour dedicated informational event on Friday 2/2/2018, for selected potential partners (mostly agricultural advisors, researchers and farmers), which attracted more than 160 people.

Full house at the gaiasense information event at Agrotica 2018

The gaiasense informational event had me multitask between preparing & sending tweets with photos (for once more using by Logitech K480 keyboard with two smartphones and one tablet!), jotting down notes, talking to contacts that made it to the event, meeting new people and addressing their questions and taking some photos, too (see below).

From my side, I had an active role in the preparation of all this - mostly in the selection of the invitations' list, the promotion of the event through social media and contacting some key persons for attending the event or visiting our booth. During Agrotica 2018, I was one of the "booth team", providing information about gaiasense to anyone interested in it (and there were dozens of them). I was also responsible for sharing updates through social media (a challenging task, taking into consideration the almost non-functional wireless connection of the event) and also taking some photos (a "backup photographer, as there was a professional one around most of the time - this allowed me to dig out my Olympus EPM-1 camera and take some nice shots).

At the booth I had the opportunity to meet old friends (mostly from university days) and colleagues, collaborators in projects etc. I also met some interesting people, passionate about their work and eager to learn more on how to apply gaiasense in their cases. These are the early adopters that an innovative system like gaiasense needs in order to get a boost at its first steps :-)

Overall, the experience was pretty challenging, including long hours at the booth, addressing various unexpected issues on the spot, having an irregular daily schedule with few snacks, lots of coffee and lots of laughs with colleagues and friends! The most important outcome of these days though, was the fact that we came to actually meet many different potential customers / users of gaiasense, hear what they need and see if (and how) gaiasense can help them address their needs. It helped us (and me personally) better understand how we can reach these people by better understanding their needs.

Back to work now :-)