Medal Award 2023


Aug. 29, 2023

The Vietsch Foundation awards the 2023 Medal of Honour to Arjan Xhelaj.

The recipient of the 2022 medal of honour of the Vietsch Foundation is Arjan Xhelaj, founder, Director General and Chairman of the Governance Board of RASH, the Academic Network of Albania.

The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. The medal was presented to Arjan on 6 June, during the award ceremony at TNC 2023, the leading European networking conference organised by GÉANT.

Arjan Xhelaj has been responsible for establishing the RASH academic network from scratch and developing it through a decade of successful achievements to a fully functional organisation, serving the academic network and users of Albania  and representing the Albanian research and education community in international fora and projects. In the spirit of the award, which recognises individuals who have proved their organizational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of long-term value, “Arjan Xhelaj was selected as the most deserving recipient, in a list of very valuable candidates, some of whom were nominated by various communities” said Valentino Cavalli, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation. Explaining the rationale for the choice, Valentino recalled that he “first met Arjan in 2011, during a meeting in Italy, where he and Karel Vietsch had been invited to advise on the consultancy project that paved the way to the creation of the research and education network of Albania. Arjan proved since then to be a very competent, strong and motivated player, and asked very soon to become a member of TERENA. The Vietsch Foundation board unanimously recognised the value of his commitment and successful achievements throughout the years. Board members are also particularly excited that the 2023 medal of honour has been awarded to the host of TNC this year”.

In accepting the award Arjan said:   

“It is with great honor and gratitude that I accept the Vietsch Foundation’s recognition for my work in the last decade in building the Albanian NREN, RASH. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Vietsch Foundation for their unwavering support for the scientific community and their dedication to promoting research and innovation. I also want to extend my appreciation to my fellow researchers, my staff and colleagues who have contributed to my work. Research and innovation are at the core of human progress. They drive advancements in science, technology, and society, and have the power to transform our world for the better. The Vietsch Foundation’s commitment to supporting research and innovation is commendable. Their philanthropic efforts have made a significant impact on advancing research. Their unwavering support has enabled researchers like me to pursue our passion for knowledge and make meaningful contributions to our work. Innovation is the engine that propels research forward. It involves not only generating new ideas but also translating them into practice that benefit society. However, research and innovation are not without challenges. They require perseverance, resilience, and dedication to overcome obstacles and setbacks. In conclusion, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Vietsch Foundation for this prestigious recognition. It inspires me to continue my pursuit of excellence in research and innovation.”

Arjan Xhelaj is the founder, and currently Director General and Chairman of the Governance Board of RASH, the Academic Network of Albania. He is an experienced institutional leader with a proven track record of working in government, public administration, industry and International Relations. The Researcher and Innovator has strong experience in the European Commission as a Member of various governing and advisory Boards. He has studied Engineering in Applied Physics and Information Technology and worked as PhD researcher in Biophysics at Frankfurt am Main University, Germany.