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Review of the First ENGAGE.EU Think Tank 2022 in Mannheim

It was a successful premiere in the history of the European University ENGAGE.EU: From 29 September to 2 October 2022, 14 researchers from the nine ENGAGE.EU partner universities came together for the ENGAGE.EU Think Tank at the University of Mannheim. During the week-long research stay, they intensively explored the “Role of Digitization for Sustainable Development” and examined it from all angles, individually and in small research groups. Vidya Oruganti from the NHH Norwegian School of Economics explains:

The think tank is the first of its kind. It’s an effort to bring researchers from different European universities together, thereby creating connections and establishing collaborations.

The event also featured a number of digitalization experts from business, academia and politics, with whom participants were able to interact and exchange ideas, including Mariette Karamanli, Member of the French National Assembly and responsible for the regulation of digital platforms in Europe, Luka Mucic (CFO SAP) and Kristian Schier (Chief Architect SAP), who addressed supply chain disruptions and business networks, Vijay Ratnaparkhe, Chief Information Officer at Robert Bosch GmbH in the area of digitalization, and Norman Wingen of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on taxation of the digitalized economy and taxation & sustainability.

For the researchers, the Think Tank was a great experience overall to present their research projects and to work out new suggestions and ideas together. For Ashley Metz from Tilburg University, it was also this networking aspect that stood out: “I’m excited to be here to work with others, working on digitalization in Europe and different societal applications. I’m hoping to leave with some contacts for further collaboration and ongoing projects.”

The variety of topics that the participants contributed impressively demonstrates the enormous bandwidth of the research focus “Digitalization”:

  • Activity tracking for social science research
  • How to foster a sustainable digital transformation, e.g. through taxes or subsidies
  • Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
  • How to repurpose technology and innovation for the social good and sustainability
  • Digital transformation from an extended knowledge perspective
  • Digitalization of risk management in the context of climate-related hazards and natural disasters
  • Mapping the living and breathing landscape of scholarly journals

Filippo Bontadini from Luiss University in Rome is currently studying how digitalization is related to social inequality, especially in the area of wage polarization. For him, the research visit was a great opportunity to exchange ideas about this relatively new phenomenon with other colleagues from related fields. He says:

The personal contact is a great advantage because it opens up new discussions. We are now looking together whether there is a problem with digitalization and inequality or whether policy instruments exist that can be used to shape taxation to make digitalization work for everyone.