EARMA Conference Oslo

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Impact driven multidisciplinary research proposals – challenge for RMA

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Vesna Bozanic

Adjusting the pre-award process early enough to implement the structure leading to impactful outcomes is often a challenging task for the pre-award RMA supporting the multidisciplinary proposals. Diversified scientific teams participating in multidisciplinary proposals view differently their contributions to the expected impact of the research project. Experienced pre-award RMA will support multidisciplinary team in finding focus on distinct contribution to the expected impact, while meeting the specificities of the particular funding call/program.

The ERC game: grant assignment mechanism and choice to apply

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Arina Shadrikova

We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of grant assignment mechanisms, in particular the ERC bottom-up approach. The bottom-up assignment mechanism avoids arbitrary prioritization across fields and domains. However, it ends up penalizing fields with smaller uncertainty about applicants ranking. In such fields, applicants below the winning threshold are less likely to apply, reducing the number of applications and—by the bottom-up approach—also reducing the number of awardees in the field. In contrast, the top-down approach avoids that researchers’ “choice to apply” affects the distribution of grants across fields. However, this requires a decision about how to assign grants across fields.

What is grant writing?

Grant writers’ key skills and expertise

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Interactive Session

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr. Johanna Toivonen de Gonzales

Grant writing covers a diverse range of support services for researchers in the grant proposal preparation, but its definition is not well established. In this work, we aim at clarifying the definitions of the term, focusing on the nature of the tasks and expertise needed at different levels of grant writing.

All Quiet on the Front? Impressions of LERU researchers and RSOs on the preparation and submission of proposals under pillar II

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Technical Report

Topic: Proposal Development

Torben Hoeoeck Hansen

Horizon Europe was launched in 2021 after a bumpy ride towards adoption. The European Commis-sion’s mantra on Horizon Europe is that it is very much an evolution, rather than a revolution. Much indeed looks the same, or at least not completely new and unfamiliar (e.g., three pillar structure, types of actions, etc.). However, once you start looking more closely under the bonnet, in particular at im-plementation modalities, there are various new elements researchers and RSOs need to come to grips with or which may even raise an eyebrow (e.g., new rules for MSCA doctoral fellowships and training networks, new pillar for innovation, portfolio management, etc.).

Brokerage: a tool to support collaborative research initiatives

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Practical Initiatives

Topic: Proposal Development

dr Brigita Serafinaviciute

The need for interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial approach in competitive funding schemes for collaborative research is evident. However, how to make this happen? Brokerage or matchmaking is one of the tools to help pre-award consortia building activities with identifying potential partners and elaborating proposal ideas. This tool could be used internally bringing together different faculties, supporting strategic networking with other partner institutions, or exploring new opportunities. The events could be organized as physical, online or hybrid ones.

Easy access to the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions: A toolbox for researchers and research managers

A set of of useful documents and tools, prepared by the MSCA National Contact Points

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Practical Initiatives

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr Julie Sauer

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) are among the most attractive yet most competitive funding schemes of Horizon Europe. In order to lower the entry barrier for researchers and RMAs to obtain MSCA grants, the MSCA National Contact Points develop within the EU project MSCA-Net a set of tools for applicants and supporters, e.g. writing guides for the different actions or an FAQ Blog. Attendees to this session will learn about the toolbox, where to find it, how and when to use it.

Finding funds made easy!

Personalized funding opportunities: Engage researchers in searching for funding opportunities.

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Practical Initiatives

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr. Christian Jagersma

UMC Utrecht is, as an innovative University medical center, always looking for better ways to inform researchers about funding opportunities. In Utrecht we use ResearchConnect as a platform to search for funding opportunities, combined with the integrated search algorithms of another company, Impacter.
The issue we were dealing with is that only a small portion of researchers is engaged in the process of fund searching. We were looking for ways to engage the researchers in this process and the idea was to show personalized funding matches to the researchers in a relevant channel that would nudge them to interact more with the funding database and with us as the research office. 

Refurbishing researcher’s information profiles in (post)COVID era

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Ana Estellés

Are researcher’s online profiles targeted to fund raising purposes? Can it be an effective tool for pattern matching? How can we help researchers "to sell" their profiles in online brokerage events? This presentation will arise discussion on lights and shadows of online brokerage events.

Roadmap to R&I funding

A useful tool to define success R+D+I strategies

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Practical Initiatives

Topic: Proposal Development

Isabel Parreu Alberich

The Support Unit of European R&I projects is the operational structure allowing a systematic, effective and efficient maximization of participation in R&I European projects of researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University, and thus, of the Campus of International Excellence Southern Catalonia. The most important role the unit has in the pre-award process is facilitating project concept development and project drafting of the non-strictly scientific sections. Roadmapping is a tool that allows us to guide the researchers towards interdisciplinary collaboration with the aim of diversifying the action fields of researchers and promoting talent attraction in emerging areas.

Acknowledging Each Other’s Craftsmanship: Perspectives on Proposal–writing support

PANEL SESSION

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Deirdre Caden

It is widely recognised that the researcher is best placed to write the research parts of proposals, for example, most of the Excellence section of European Commission Research & Innovation Action proposals. The rest of the proposal – the Impact and Implementation sections – are where the researcher often needs help and guidance, and this is where the pre-award research support professional comes in.
The entire RIA/IA proposal benefits from pre-submission reviews and input from multiple professionals, both internal to the researcher’s organisation, and external, in the shape of proposal writing consultants. Both the local research support manager and the external consultant consider aspects such as:

- Is the proposal message clear?
- Is there a coherent story in the proposal that makes it compelling for the reader/evaluator?
- What factors persuade the evaluator to read on?
- How do we convince the evaluator that this is the right team to deliver this proposal?
- How timely and novel is this proposal?
- What is the unique selling point of this proposal and how will it deliver to the Commission exactly what they are looking for?

These are the questions always in the background in supporting researchers to craft successful proposals. This presentation will address how RMAs can best engage with proposal-writing consultants towards the goal of successful proposals. We hope to use this time to provoke a wider discussion on RMA’s and consultants’ experiences from both perspectives and will explore aspects of pre-award support, such as:

-Common traits of winning proposals; Hints and tips on common problems seen in EC proposals (by consultants and research support staff)

- Optimal modes of interaction between pre-award RMAs in academic institutions and external consultants; discuss ways in which pre-award university professional support staff can interact with external consultants for maximum benefit to the researcher

- Discussion of researcher perceptions of the value of local, compared to external, research and innovation support

- Overlap and difference in roles of RMA and consultant: how to delineate responsibilities most effectively for the academic (the customer)

-What are the questions the RMA should ask a consultant before engaging them to support a HE coordination? E.g. Can they support the writing of business and exploitation cases? Will they play a role in Dissemination or Communication as a project partner (post-award)? What would a checklist of questions look like?

-How do you choose the right consultant per programme or research area?

-How do you ensure the consultant is the right fit for the academic/researcher? What factors influence the coordinator: Discipline knowledge, previous success rate, reputation, is it personality-driven?

-Discussion/Q&A: What is the audience’s experience*:

E.g. what are experiences of ‘No win, no fee’ consultants?
We will invite the audience to share good (and bad) experiences of working with RMAs/consultants with a view to complementing each other’s work, respecting our mutual craftsmanship and getting a conversation going about we can best work together to achieve the same goal of maximizing our success.

*Audience members are asked NOT to name specific consultants in their questions/discussions.

Go/No-Go assessment for ERC project proposals – preliminary screening tools for RMAs

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Methodological Session

Topic: Proposal Development

Mr Yoram Bar-zeev

ERC is Europe’s most prestigious research grant, supporting excellent researchers in carrying out ground-breaking, high-risk, high-gain, frontier research projects. As such, the ERC is highly competitive and rather elusive, and as such has a list of unique requirements and “unwritten” rules that should be followed to ensure the proposal is successful and meets the reviewers’ expectations. Due to its high demands and elusive nature, applicants can typically spend weeks and even months solely on the meticulous preparation and execution of this ERC proposal. Since so much time and resources are spent on the proposal preparation phase, it is incredibly important to ensure applicants head out on this path knowing they have all the necessary ERC components, and that their project idea and personal CV is a “strong match” for this ambitious grant.

Warming up to Excellence in the New Normal

A cross-institutional, cross disciplinary study/presentation of Excellence Grants - from the social and digital sciences areas

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Interactive Session

Topic: Proposal Development

Henrik Engell-Hedager

Three Danish Universities (Copenhagen Business School (CBS), IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) and University of Copenhagen (KU)) will together explain their roadmaps and strategic actions and set ups towards attracting Excellence Grants (ERC, MSCA and other international, regional or national "individual" funding instruments). When it comes to attracting Excellence Grants we do compete against each other. The idea of going together across three Danish universities and develop new methods and tools to improve the way we work with supporting Excellence Grants will benefit us and our audience.

You will learn good practices from each university (a small university (ITU), a middle sized university (CBS) and a large university (KU) and benefit from a cross-disciplinary approach and discussion. Although rather different fields of science across all three universities, we all have a focus on SSH and experience in supporting interdisciplinary excellence projects. This will be the “uniting/common discipline” in the discussions. We will discuss the differences in management involvement including questions such as:

• how supportive are the management of the research support?

• what are the levels of control, levels of trust, and levels of interest from the management in regards to research support staff?

• what kind of structure and environment makes a research supporter thrive and perform?

We will also present and discuss the ways we use internal reviews as a means to improve Excellence Grants.

All three universities do offer internal reviews but with different set-ups. Is one better than the other or will the discussion create a new and better way of support – A New Normal? In the meeting each participant will also contribute to and get a “Word Cloud” of how to approach Excellence Grants when leaving the presentation.

Collaboration of Research Managers within University Alliances

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Good Practice

Topic: Proposal Development

Jenny Wanselius

Many of us belong to established university alliances, but haven’t you ever had the feeling that nothing concrete comes out of the collaboration? What is the secret of developing a fruitful long-term strategic collaboration between research managers, which really supports and facilitates your daily work?
At Nordic Five Tech, we found a good recipe for success that we want to share with you in our presentation.

Lessons learned from switching an intensive MSCA proposal preparation event online due to COVID-19 restrictions

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Case Study

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr. Liise Lehtsalu

This Pecha Kucha presentation highlights the experiences of RMAs in Eurac Research with organizing an intensive proposal preparation event for Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships. We used to hold an in-person event that has moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions in the last two years. In this presentation, we discuss our lessons learned about each of the two formats and highlight our doubts about returning to the in-person events once restrictions ease.

MSCA PF support scheme as a tool for maintaining the sustainability of an established research centre from structural funds

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Good Practice

Topic: Proposal Development

Petra Vaculíková

Since 2010, there have been almost 50 research centres built in Czechia thanks to the financial support from ERDF/ESF. However, the challenge they face remains: How to secure sustainability without support from structural funds? Moreover, at CATRIN research centre, connected to Palacký University Olomouc, we are not widely involved in teaching activities, and therefore lack the backup of “money for students”, which makes sustainability an even more imminent issue. For that reason, we have to refocus from structural/national grants to more competitive (and excellent) schemes under Horizon Europe. So what kind of grant strategy and measures should we take to achieve further development of our research activities and their sustainable growth? In case of CATRIN, we particularly focus on ERC, WIDERA and EIC grants that are already being implemented, but also on measures leading to a more extensive involvement in Pillar II, as well as MSCA.It is specifically our MSCA experience that shows how developed support schemes for Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship applicants can be developed on lower level at Universities and other research institutions. On the case of Sinophone Borderlands research centre (a part of Faculty of Arts, Palacký University Olomouc) we will show how , over the last three years this support scheme has had a very concrete impact on the amount of submitted proposals and the success rate. We will present tools useful especially for widening countries as well as the how to attract early stage researchers. On the basis of surveys between MSCA applicants, we will present what level of support is expected from their perspective. Additionally, various tips for motivating potential supervisors will be discussed. The core of the presented functional support MSCA-PF mechanism consists of a three-month course (1 hour/per week) – 30-minute presentations by the project manager, 30-minute discussion between applicants, MS Teams support platform (as an information hub with general as well as private channels), 2 MSCA hackathons (intensive writing weeks when consultants on different topics are available all day – ethics, dissemination, open science, gender etc.), Show & Tell Day (opening the proposal to other applicants and their supervisors), Internal peer-review process (comments from three experts), and individual consultations. Advantages and disadvantages of this approach will be shown in concrete examples. The engagement of previous success holders is necessary.A more intensive communication, collaboration and integration of effective MSCA preparation approaches and teams across other motivated Czech institution is our next goal for the near future. To pilot a novel mode of co-creation/co-designing and a common implementation of training programmes for both MSCA-PF candidates and MSCA research support staff, we started an intensive collaboration with a MSCA team from Masaryk University In January 2022.Our ambition for 2023 is to share the resulting experience and training programmes with a wider Czech research support staff community. Within the framework of the recently established CZARMA, we will organise a series of facilitated meetings and establish specific working groups to support preparation of MSCA schemes, but also to generally strengthen MSCA relevant knowledge, including post-award practice. Integrated efforts of such a significant community can be beneficial for a wider international community, too, and have potential to get/raise our collaborative capabilities and competences, as research support professionals, to a next level.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Erasmus+: how enhance synergies

How enhance synergies among education, research and innovation on the two programmes MSCA and Erasmus+

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr Valentina Airi

Here we look possible synergies/complementarities between actions targeting higher education: MSCA under Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. Both schemes offer opportunities for mobility, training, career development and staff exchange. They have a strong international dimension beyond the EU and contribute strengthening Europe’s attractiveness. However, university staff often work in silos, and those dealing with the MSCA might not be aware of Erasmus+, and vice versa. This Pecha Kucha highlight successful synergies between these programmes promoting the joint participation.

The looking-glass world of grant proposals

How to write a grant with zero chance of being funded

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Methodological Session

Topic: Proposal Development

Olaf Svenningsen

All research proposals are not well-written, and many RMA’s put substantial effort into improving the quality of proposals, a sometimes-frustrating task. But what if you had to write a proposal that you did *not* want to be funded? Could a project be made unfundable just by writing a proposal that excels in being atrocious? What lessons may be learned from such an exercise?

Developing Support for Clinical and Health Researchers

Format: Poster

Category: Case Study

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr Ashleigh Byrne

The College of Medicine and Health (CoMH) in University College cork, Ireland, spans 6 schools and is the academic hub for 11 hospitals. In 2019, a Research Support Officer role was created, and a clinician was appointed as the Vice Dean of Research and Innovation – normally an academic appointment. This is our story so far – on how we are developing research and research support strategies for both our academic and clinical researchers, including those who wish to become research active. While the college is affiliated with a number of hospitals in the region, many researchers based at those hospitals do not receive/seek out university/college-level support for their research efforts. Aside from 2 large research centres, there has been little collaboration between the college and the hospitals. The hospitals are often considered as separate entities to the college, and many academic researchers are unaware of the research efforts within the hospitals (and vice versa), despite studies being similar with potential for collaboration. The reasons for such disconnect are many, and historical.Since 2019, we have been developing a mechanism to provide research support across the college and our affiliated hospitals. Our aims include increasing awareness of the local research supports available, increasing local academic-clinical collaborations, helping researchers navigate the funding landscape and map out a career path, and ultimately, to increase the research outputs and impact of the college. Here, we present some of the challenges we have met and continue to meet, some of our efforts and achievements to date, and what we hope to achieve in the future.

Lockdown as a catalyst for researcher engagement

Reimagining effective strategies

Format: Poster

Category: Good Practice

Topic: Proposal Development

Sinead Gorham

In this poster the ADAPT Research Development team (RDT) reflects on how researcher engagement was re-imagined throughout the Covid lockdowns. We invite you to share your ideas on novel hybrid/blended solutions of providing RMA. What worked well for your institutions during these times? What didn’t? With the re-emergence from lockdowns will it all be online from now on? This session will explore strategies used, and how to retain best practices in our post-Covid world? Since the emergence of Covid and the move to working from home the multi-institutional ADAPT RDT (which includes eight Higher Education Institutions spread across three provinces in Ireland with over 300 researchers from numerous disciplines) instigated a number of tools and techniques to assist with effective researcher engagement in remote working environments. Traditionally pre-Covid, a significant amount of the team’s engagement with researchers was via formal pre-organised and informal in-person meetings, as well as open door drop-ins in the office, resulting in strengthened relationships and engagement. In our Research Centre, this is particularly pertinent with the RDT working side-by-side with academics, postdocs and PhD students all sharing the same space. With the forced move to work off-site, these interactions were lost. To begin addressing this void during Covid, the team implemented several new processes to connect in a novel way with researchers. Tailored virtual call information sessions were scheduled, after exercises to map activities for specific calls. Virtual writing sprints, proposal intelligence workshops, recorded training sessions, feedback loop/s for draft material and portal guidance were all incorporated into our practices. These virtual processes were promoted through various channels, from mailing lists, collaborations with both Education and Public Engagement, Marketing and Communications colleagues within the Centre, to directly through PI’s leading groups across the Centre. In addition, the RDT became increasingly aware of the importance of researcher well-being at this time. This was emphasized by the results of several questionnaires circulated to research staff via Centre management and observed in our day-to-day internal interactions. The focus on researcher well-being led to a softer engagement strategy; not only call/opportunity based but in the form of light touch weekly “drop-in” coffee sessions, focussed on free discussion, as well as one-to-one follow-up sessions when and where necessary. The well-being of the members of the RDT was also brought into focus with bi-weekly check-in sessions scheduled, as informal catch-ups with emphasis on team welfare. Learning outcomes: The researcher-managed process sessions have generated strong interest, been well attended and submission numbers in those calls have remained steady and in some cases increased throughout the pandemic period. The “drop-in” coffee sessions have led to a number of fruitful discussions between researchers, in particular some collaborative transdisciplinary research opportunities have stemmed from these weekly interactions, as well as building and sustaining relationships during difficult times. This session is aimed at pre-award research managers in any stage of their career (beginner to expert). The focus is to share ideas on novel blended solutions of providing RMA and retaining best practices on a return to office settings.

Take the customer journey

Pre-award support for EU funding in the new normal

Format: Poster

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Heli Honkanen

We present service design methodology as a practical tool for developing user-friendly EU funding pre-award support services in small research organizations. Growing competition for research funding has increased the need to design efficient pre-award support services to provide targeted services to enhance researchers’ fund-raising continuum of their research career in the new normal. We discuss how implementation of research management can benefit from service design and what new challenges entering the new normal brings to the support services and how they could be solved.