August 2, 2021, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Digital innovation at an online conference

Ying-Jia (Mia) Huang reflects on attending an online conference with help from the Researcher Academy’s Online Conference Fund.

I have really appreciated the opportunity to attend and present a conference paper, based on my PhD study, at the 28th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference (IPDMC). This was made possible with the support of the Online Conference Fund from the Researcher Academy. IPDMC is a leading international conference that has accepted papers from multiple disciplines around innovation management and new product development. It brings scholars from fields such as technology management, entrepreneurship, marketing of innovation, creativity, and design into a virtual society.

Before the COVID pandemic, the physical conferences I attended enabled me to engage and network with other researchers face-to-face. However, this was my first time presenting a conference paper virtually and I was a bit anxious about the logistic and technical issues that sometimes occur during online events.

It turned out that my concerns about participating in virtual conferences were eliminated in the IPDMC. There were several positive aspects of a virtual conference that I have experienced in this event. My first impression of the online IPDMC was that the friendly and interactive atmosphere remains regardless of the format of the IPDMC. The discussions during the conference were fruitful and valuable, and researchers were able to exchange insights with other scholars who share similar research interests.

During this unprecedented time, the IPDMC organising committee was innovative regarding using different digital approaches to enhance the engagement at the online IPDMC. For example, attendees were instructed to complete their profiles in a digital system to make virtual interactions much more accessible and smoother. Furthermore, presenters uploaded a 3-minute trailer before the conference, enabling attendees to have a quick overview of the study and feel the nearly face-to-face engagement with the presenter.

Additionally, IPDMC adopted a new approach, Miro boards, for participants to leave comments, questions, and contact information to extend discussions and interactions among participants beyond the 2-day conference. As a result, I received several insightful comments in the Q&A session, such as potential aspects worth exploring and the terminologies that need further clarification. Once my session was finished, I could take notes from the Miro board, where people left detailed elaboration or explanations about their comments.  What’s more, I was able to reach academics who kindly offered me the feedback and comments through the contact information they left on the Miro board. These features and innovative approaches have created a friendly, exciting, inspiring, and welcoming atmosphere during the conference. Such success is due to both the conference organising committee’s efforts and all the attendees who offered their comments and shared their insights.

There are some additional benefits to attending online conferences. For instance, presenters and attendees from all around the world do not have to deal with the hassles of travelling or cope with jet lag before the conference. Also, the cost of transportation and accommodation can be minimised. Furthermore, an online conference might help some people deliver a better performance since they can choose an environment they feel comfortable in for doing the presentation.

As a result, I highly recommend participating or presenting in an online conference. It is a great opportunity to stay connected with the academic community and to develop your own connections for your academic career. More importantly, if you are going to present in an online conference, make sure you apply for the Online Conference Fund to make the most of your research budget.

You can find out more about the Online Conference Fund here.

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