Matchmaker, matchmaker, find me a match: Identifying, contacting, and keeping team members was the first event in the fall funding success skills series (fs3). Held on September 27, 2013, it brought together faculty and staff at ASU who are active collaborators or supporting collaborations. Attendees were introduced to a wide variety of services available within the university as well as the levels of partnership expected when developing project and proposal ideas.
The panel was composed of an engineering faculty member and three personnel from the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED). The full range of agreement types were discussed, including formal and informal agreements, single and multiple investigator collaborations, and institutional master agreements.
Nikhilesh Chawla, Professor, Fulton Schools of Engineering, began with a personal story about how a random conversation in a hallway led to a successful collaboration on a MURI application. He recommended networking at conferences and professional meetings. He also drove home the point that pursuing the more well known collaborator is enticing, it is wise to collaborate with someone who complements your strengths (and your team). In other words, “Go by game, not by name.” It is also helpful to cast yourself as a collaborator before approaching them. Ask yourself, “What would be the benefit for them to participate?” and use that as an opening. Ultimately, he advises that you shouldn’t be motivated by funds, but rather by how a collaboration will advance your objectives. Sometimes, a single handshake is enough to create a life-long partnership.
Todd Hardy, Vice President of Assets, spoke about the three avenues that ASU connects faculty with partners. Specifically, Corporate Engagement, led by Keith Walton (Vice President for Strategic Industry Collaborations) is a portal to corporations interested in working with ASU; Economic Development Group, led by Todd, advances the university’s mission to improve the area economy using ASU’s faculty and students, accomplished through topic driven and community inclusive summits; and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, led by Gordon McConnell, provides training and consultation for start ups and spin outs from ASU and locally. He also mentioned Arizona Technology Enterprise (AzTE) for those interested in pursuing commercialization of research efforts with industry partners.
Stephen Feinson, Vice President of Global, described how his office is connecting with small and large companies to pursue funding opportunities internationally. This requires that he work with several faculty members at a time, protecting their interests, and advance the goals of ASU within a framework that ensures fruitful collaboration with industry partners. His work focuses on identifying faculty members that work well within a team to accomplish specific goals that have been clearly defined by the sponsor agency. He encouraged the audience to take advantage of ASU’s resources to network for collaborators.
Heather Clark, Assistant Director of Research Administration, briefly described how ORSPA is organized to review proposals, negotiate agreements, and ensure award compliance. Fundamentally, her office is responsible for working with research administrative professionals and faculty to craft collaboration agreements. She described three such agreements: a non-disclosure agreement (NDA or CDA) is put in place when sharing sensitive or proprietary information with another entity; a memorandum of understanding (MOU or statement of cooperation) is a formal agreement to work together on a specific project without payment; and a teaming agreement (TA) is a formal agreement to work on a proposal together. These partnership agreements are different than a subcontract or subrecipient contract, which are formal agreements for the disbursement of funds. Heather’s office has templates for each of these agreements and will work with research administrators and the partner to negotiate them on faculty member’s behalf. Heather also recommended that when including partners in proposal text to make the text easy to read and digest, utilizing graphics as necessary to illustrate how the team is organized, and including an explanation of why each collaborator has been included. Referencing past success with a sponsor is also ideal.
The recurring suggestions made by the panel were to reach out to ASU faculty and staff, look for collaborators in new an unusual venues, balance skills and expertise with reputation and experience, and regularly communicate with past and existing partners. The video of this forum will be posted soon.
The next fs3 will be on October 25, 2013: What you see is what you get: Effective messaging in proposals. It will feature faculty and staff involved in developing convincing proposal graphics and text composition.
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 faculty proposals. For more information, contact: researchstrategy (@) asu.edu.
What topic of discussion would help you to improve your application or proposal?