8th Heidelberg Laureate Forum postponed until 2021

Digital platforms connect researchers this year

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, after careful consideration by the organizers, it has been decided that the 8th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) originally planned to take place this September will be deferred until next year. The HLF is a networking conference that brings 200 of the brightest young researchers in mathematics and computer science together with the laureates of the fields: recipients of the Abel Prize, ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing, Fields Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize. The 8th HLF is now scheduled for September 19–24, 2021.

Since the outbreak and rapid spread of COVID-19, the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) has been closely monitoring the pandemic and its impact. Following a painstaking examination by the board of directors and in agreement with the award granting institutions, it was resolved to postpone the annual meeting until 2021.

 “This decision was not easy for us to reach,” said Beate Spiegel, Chairperson of the HLFF and Managing Director of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, “but currently it is impossible to foresee how the effects of the coronavirus will develop by September. Above all, the health and safety of all HLF attendees, partners and employees as well as the citizens of Heidelberg is the utmost priority. Besides, participants of the HLF come from all over the world, whether certain travel restrictions are in effect remains uncertain.” Spiegel went on to explain that networking at the HLF is dependent on the relaxed atmosphere and the personal interaction that would not be possible in the present climate.  “Given the gravity of the circumstances many people are facing, there was no other reasonable recourse than to delay the Forum,” stated Spiegel.

Deciding to suspend the event is especially bitter for the young researchers who, after a meticulous application and selection process, just received their confirmation to participate in the 8th HLF and will now have to wait another year for this unique experience. Of course, all of those selected this year will have their invitations honored for the 8th HLF in 2021.

That is not to mean that the HLFF will spend the coming months simply waiting for more stable times. Bearing the motto “Virtual HLF – traversing separation,” the organizers are working to develop digital formats for this September such as panel discussions revolving around eHealth and other topics, plus a platform that enables the laureates and young researchers to efficiently exchange ideas.

"The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is an experience of a lifetime for many of the students who have been selected to attend. Face-to-face interactions with the Laureates who are icons in their fields represents a unique opportunity,” said Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf, recipient of the ACM A.M. Turing Award in 2004 and avid participant in every HLF since the first event in 2013. “For the students, the week at HLF forms bonds that predictably will last decades. While not a substitute for in-person events, the 2020 HLF will create online opportunities for interaction with the Laureates and other scholars. I look forward to the 2021 renewal of the traditional HLF event,” affirmed Cerf.

A “Virtual HLF” cannot replicate the experience provided by the personal exchanges during the HLF-week, however this is a valuable opportunity to experiment with digital platforms that could supplement future programs. Updates regarding the “Virtual HLF” will be made available on the website, including many offers available to the public. Other news, information on previous Forums, past lectures and more can be found there or additional video material on the HLF YouTube channel.

Category: HLFF Forum