Latest update: 13.3.2020
As you are all aware, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 is getting worse day by day and many countries have announced to close their borders or prohibit larger gatherings of people. Living abroad in a mix of different cultures is in our DNA as EIT Digital Alumni, and certainly many of us are worried about our friends, family and colleagues living abroad in other parts of the world. In these times, we believe we need to provide support as a community and we would like to express our sympathy and support to everyone, directly or indirectly, affected by the virus. We hope all of you are healthy and would encourage you to follow recommendations set by your governments to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible.
On our side, we have been monitoring the outbreak in Europe closely with regards to our own events and gatherings organised by the EIT Digital Alumni. Especially in relation to our flagship event, the Annual Meeting 2020, the Board has followed the news extremely closely. The safety of our Alumni has always been the most important part of the discussions, besides ensuring that we can minimize the financial impact for individual participants and the EIT Digital Alumni Community as a whole.
Following the recent developments, the Board has taken the very tough decision to cancel the Annual Meeting 2020. This has been one of the hardest decisions in our Board term so far, but we believe that cancelling the event is the most responsible thing to do. It is extremely hard to predict how this pandemic will develop and the uncertainty made every day more difficult to continue the preparations. With the latest developments of countries enforcing a lock-down and most major airlines canceling their flight routes, the possibilities of traveling to Split have significantly reduced. We have also decided to align with the best practices laid out by the CDC, WHO and other relevant entities, who have concluded that drastic social distancing measures are absolutely necessary to delay the spread of the virus and avoid the collapse of public healthcare systems. Above all, it has become clear we cannot effectively mitigate the risk of any possible contagion during the event. As we place the health and well-being of our alumni as our top priorities, the only reasonable decision was to cancel this physical gathering.
Although preparation was in full swing and a significant amount of expenses for the Annual Meeting had been made already, the Board and the organizing team in Croatia have worked hard with all the third parties involved to offer you a full refund of the participation fee paid on Eventbrite. We will start an automatic refund procedure in the coming days, meaning you should receive an email confirmation and the money back in your account a couple of days thereafter. We sincerely apologise for any travel arrangements you may have made, but we hope that airlines will be flexible given this difficult situation we are all in.
Cancelling our biggest event of the year also has a big impact on the EIT Digital Alumni community and we would like to work together to find a suitable alternative for this event to take place some time in the late summer / autumn. Whether this would be a physical gathering somewhere, spread out over the different EIT Digital locations or online is something we need to investigate, but we would really appreciate your input. LET US KNOW what you would like us to organise instead, and we will do our best to make this happen!
While our work will, without doubt, be different for a while, it has been inspiring to see the active engagement from all of you in finding ways how to best tackle this challenge. The effort put into organising this event by the local Working Group has been impressive and the event would have been amazing without a doubt. We are extremely happy with the level of engagement within our community and strongly believe that we can overcome these challenges together!
Your EIT Digital Alumni Board
The theme of the Annual Meeting 2020: Social Responsibility in Tech