The Open AIR New Emerging Researchers Group (NERG), under the leadership of Esther Ekong and Adel Osama, organized a virtual meet-up series, which kicked off on 26 January 2021. It was well-attended, with almost half of the NERG in attendance.

The meeting started with opening remarks from the Ombudsperson, Esther Ekong, warmly welcoming her colleagues. She reiterated that while the virtual meetings are a forum for the researchers to present their research, they also afford an opportunity for researchers to connect with one another and build a close-knit community of researchers. With the isolation necessitated by COVID-19, it is more important than ever to have a forum like this to enable each researcher to connect with each other, even if it is to simply listen, and share their research with one another.

For this first meeting, Esther started off the series with a presentation of her QES research, entitled: The role of intellectual property rights as a development tool for women entrepreneurs in developing countries: the case of the cosmetics sector in Nigeria. This was followed by an interactive session of comments, questions, and answers about the research. Several were very helpful in inspiring new ways to look at her research and where she could take it. The event was a huge success and reinforced the importance of keeping connected. The next virtual meeting will be on 23 February 2021, with a presentation from QES Scholar, Charlene Musiza.