As part of the Funding Success Skills Series (fs3), ASU’s Research Strategy Group recently hosted a panel discussion on interacting with sponsor agencies. Almost 50 attendees listened to five seasoned faculty and staff members describe how they approach funding agencies, maintain relationships with them, and create strategic long term plans for interaction.
Neal Lester, Associate Vice President of Research at ASU, stressed the importance of building a relationship with the sponsor; not being disheartened by the size of your budget, but rather being inspired by the quality of your project. He provided several examples where collaborations and funding opportunities emerged by simply speaking up and inviting sponsor representatives to events.
Rachel Levinson, Director of National Research Initiatives for ASU, recommended that you never visit a sponsor without researching them thoroughly. This will decrease the time you spend discussing the sponsor and increase the time spent discussing your idea.
James Collins, Professor in the School of Life Sciences, pointed to professional meetings as one way to connect to sponsors. Faculty should also participate as proposal reviewers whenever possible. And, when meeting with sponsors, a brief, well-written synopsis of your idea is mandatory as a leave behind. Finally, think strategically and long-term when interacting with your sponsor representative. Productive discussions now may yield dividends for years to come.
Sayfe Kiaei, professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the director of the National Science Foundation I/UCRC Connection One, also stressed creating a relationship with sponsor representatives, but also reviewed the importance of reading and responding to solicitations effectively. The solicitation can be seen as an extension of the goals and priorities of the sponsor agency and its representatives.
Gary Dirks, Director of LightWorks, reviewed how he has seen how one sponsor agency (the Department of Energy) has changed over time. Importantly, he suggested that once you receive an award, your relationship with the sponsor should not only continue, but should be augmented to include them whenever possible. This strategy ensures that they are familiar with your current work progression and what ideas are in your pipeline.
fs3 is a set of monthly lunchtime discussions on topics that address the full spectrum of activities necessary for preparing successful proposals. The series aims to contribute substantially to creating a culture that results in winning proposals. For more information, contact RSG: researchstrategy (@) asu.edu.
The next event, Minding the Gap: Transitioning to Large and/or Strategic Proposals, is scheduled for April 2.