Covid-19 task force
In late March, the University of Bordeaux set up a coordination task force to organize the mobilization of the institution’s resources in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
This highly specific and virtually unique program in France was implemented at the end of March by the University of Bordeaux in light of the urgency of the health situation. A coordination task force in full synergy with the CHU (Bordeaux University Hospital) and its partners, associated institutions, EPST (Public Scientific and Technical Research Establishments), regional authorities and the Bordeaux University Foundation, was created with the aim of organizing the roll-out of resources to take part in the fight against Covid-19 at local, national and international levels.
This task force made it possible to accelerate high-impact projects, deploy them in optimal conditions and conduct a far-ranging exploration of the needs of the actors in the fight against the virus, on which the institution’s resources might be put to good use. A start-up fund of €500,000 was approved for the launch of Bordeaux-based projects in research and innovation.
Organization of the Covid-19 task force
Launched on March 30, 2020, under the direct responsibility of the University’s President, the Covid-19 organization task force is composed of 15 university figures: vice-president for research, general management of departments, department heads (research, etc.), and a representative of the CHU and the Bordeaux University Foundation, who met several times a week during the peak of the crisis. Once every two weeks, it was extended to include all the stakeholders of the campus: EPST (CNRS, INSERM, INRAE and INRIA, etc.), Bordeaux INP, Sciences Po Bordeaux and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council among others.
From the outset, it availed of the operational resources of all the University’s departments, primed for roll-out in optimal response times.
The Covid-19 task force was also supported by a dedicated multi-disciplinary scientific committee, chaired by Professor Vincent Dousset. This committee met on a regular basis to provide an opinion on proposed scientific projects, taking into account the health situation, the focal points of the national plan in response to the pandemic and the development of scientific knowledge.
• survey initiatives by local players, mobilize resources for maximum impact,
• analyze projects and initiatives, prioritize available means to carry out said projects,
• conduct intelligence activities to track needs, including the publication of calls for projects or expressions of interest linked to Covid-19, in particular from the National Research Agency (ANR), the Committee for Analysis, Research & Expertise (CARE), the H2020 European program and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council, etc.
The task force’s work was carried out in association with that of the SPARK international network, of which the University of Bordeaux is the French representative.
The Covid-19 task force coordinated more than 20 dedicated actions with immediate impact for front line stakeholders, particularly medical staff, with the inventory and collection of protective gear (masks, gowns, gel and face shields, etc.) and a survey of the expertise and equipment on hand in research units.
The task force also conducted the examination of 60 research projects in human and social science, applied engineering & digital science, synthetic biology, epidemiology & clinical science, or data science.
It provided enhanced support to 14 projects and, with the help of its scientific committee, coordinated applications for more than 40 projects by stakeholders from the Bordeaux campus, in the framework of the Flash Covid Call for Expression of Interest launched by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council.
Examples of projects supported
Covid-19 task force on standby
In view of the current state of the epidemic (decrease in the number of cases in France and on a local level, the dropping-off of projects and initiatives and the decline in stakeholders’ implication, etc.), the Covid-19 task force, as a support program for initiatives in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, must naturally scale back its activity.
This Covid-19 task force has thus been placed on stand-by for the summer period (the address email@example.com will nevertheless be maintained as a contact point).
In order to adapt to emerging needs to support initiatives linked to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and according to the evolution of the situation, the Covid-19 task force may be reactivated at any time throughout the year, in a renewed form.