Large Scale Collaborative Funding Bids

Today I attended a training workshop on large-scale funding for projects.  I have built my research career on such projects, but it is never too late to learn and gain from others’ experiences.

Anne Adams (IET):

Tensions – Turning Tension

  • Understand the drivers of the partners
  • Manage expectations
  • Managing cultural differences
    • differences can be enablers
  • Working at the OU is like working at a mini-EU (committee structures, scale, layers, etc.)
  • Learn by mistakes
  • Use processes and support : Trouble shooting
  • Funders can be a useful connection point – use them
  • Check understanding
  • Impact and dissemination from early on – impact and engagement
  • Balancing different objectives – your partners are doing the same

Small Projects

  • More focused objectives
  • Smaller budgets
  • Tighter timeframes
  • Researchers often have to do project management as well

Large Projects

  • Inverse of above but effectively made up of a series of small projects

Managing Time

  • Clear-out bid writing time
  • Co-ordinate multiple objectives
  • Larger projects may have tighter financial restrictions

Managing People

Stakeholders

  • Project partners
  • Outside the project who are they?
  • Involve in writing the bid
  • Involve users
  • Expectations
  • Highlight how stakeholders have been involved in bid writing
  • Shifting timescales
  • OU Catalyst Project – Research School
  • Breakdown what will be available when

Roles

  • Administrators
  • Project manager
  • Researchers
  • Academics as researchers / teachers / communicators

Lines of management

  • Issue of part-time staff
  • Commenting on objectives
  • People are overworked
  • Use e-mail sparingly

KPIs / Partners

  • Co PIs / Partners
    • Institutional differences
    • Cultural differences
    • Tensions from misunderstandings

Manage expectations

  • Competing expectations from a project
    • From partners
    • From funders
    • Your own objectives

Be Brave

  • Proactive in getting key players in the bid who may have a previous funding record with the funders
  • Summary of objectives and ideas early on
  • Leverage OU
    • Scale
    • Contacts
    • Systems and procedures e.g. ethics
    • Management systems
  • Don’t be afraid
    • Change adapt ideas, partners even near deadline
    • Bring in additional partners – mid-project if necessary
  • If lose trust in a partner – deal with it – don’t want a disaster during the project

Turning Tensions Around

  • transferable skills from teaching at the OU
  • Learn to take risks
    • Allow exploration
    • Keep it focus
  • Allow partners to shine

Using people available

  • Colleagues
  • Research school
  • Successful bids

Using Processes

  • Re-use processes
  • Other external projects
  • Get feedback from potential reviewers
  • Funders have resources to support

Share your ideas

  • Share ideas early on – get the project name out there!
    • Leaving it to the end means missing opportunities
  • Share your ideas with your partners
  • Different ways of sharing:
    • Posters
    • Speed dating events
    • Plan to create a video early on
    • Create eBooks
    • Websites / data sharing (in project and public)

John Domingue (KMi):

Why:

  • Funding for staff and the latest equipment and travel
  • Good for CV – funding necessary for promotion to Chair
  • Networking
  • It gives you autonomy

How:

  • Need a great idea for a project – the elevator test – can you sell it in 2 mins
  • The larger the funding the more political
  • In Europe saying the US has it is a seller
  • E.g. “turning the web from one of data into one of services”

Reviews

  • Writing for the reviews – able to give up a week of their time so tend to be good researchers but not the best.  They have to read a lot of bids – make yours stand out
  • Also have to write for the EC Section who select the funded bids
  • Make it something beyond the state-of-the-art
  • Clear, pertinent, transparent

Official Criteria

  • Excellence (threshold 3/5)
  • Impact (threshold 3/5)
  • Quality and Efficiency
    • Plan has to match the idea … if you are going to change the world in X do  the resources to do it?
  • The Consortium – probably counts 50%
    • Do you have the big players?  If not why not?
  • Use the relevant industrial associations if appropriate
  • EU projects is a game – play by the rules
  • Make sure the objective aims of the proposals are aligned with the big partners

Consortium

  • Make sure every partner is playing a specific role
  • Exploitation partners hardest to find – but most important
  • Academics will always come aboard
  • SMEs / Industrial players
  • Leading Research Institutions
  • Balance by Country, region, and type

Process

  • Year to 9 months ahead of deadline meeting of core partners – set forward the core idea
  • Pre-consortium beauty contest
    • Needs to be handled careful
  • E-mails, Skype, etc. to develop the bid
  • Set a small team of people who will write the bid
    • The consortium may well change during the bid writing
  • Talk to the funder

Commission Dialogue

  • Go to Brussels for a day, e.g. an info day
  • Get feedback from the Commission after the call is out
  • Be prepared to radically change the bid in response to feedback
  • Study the Workplan early – before the call is published

Proposal Document

  • Template
  • Stick within page limit
  • Coherent
    • Text
    • Workplan (spreadsheets/ Gantt charts etc.)
    • Risk Management
  • Note – unit heads will have their own goals – how does your project fit?
  • Take into account previous EU projects in State-of-the-Art
  • Use strategic reports from the Commission and others to give background information
  • Typically WPs: Management; 3 Technical WPs, Dissemination and Exploitation
  • Get balance of roles between the partners across the WPs right – balance the effort to match the objectives
  • Impact – who are the authoritative sources?  Quote from key reports e.g. Gartner

Writing the Proposal

  • Small team of good writers (native English speakers), separated away from other work, usually in a shared office – use study leave

Submission

  • The deadline is final!

Networking

  • The difference between a good academic and a good academic with project money is networking
  • Info days
    • Often include networking session to find partners/projects
    • ICT Events (different in different fields)
    • Keynotes invite Commission representative to conferences you organise

Easy way to start

  • Become a project or proposal reviewer
  • The OU is a world leader in Pedagogy – lead training workpackages

Sarah Gray (Research Office)

Research Support

E-mail: Research-Grants-Contracts@open.ac.uk

  • Work closely with faculty administrators
  • Review and approve all external bids (to Leverhulme and UKRCs)
  • Sarah is EU co-ordinator
  • Finding funding opportunities
    • Research.professional.com
    • Current oppertunies page
    • Visit UKRO and register e-mail address
    • National Contact Points in UK.Gov
  • Open calls on WWW page URL: search EU Horizon 2020 Participant Portal

 

— end —

Advertisements