Facilitating Large and Complex Proposal Efforts for Universities Why Are Large and Complex Proposals Different? They usually involve multiple: – Investigators – Disciplines – Departments – Colleges – Campuses – Institutions – International components – Site visits Why Are They Difficult? Significant resources need to be dedicated to reach submission Extremely competitive environment Multi-disciplinary projects mean participants need to learn each others ―language and culture‖ Trust needs to be built over time -- short time frames stress the process They can be high risk, high yield, high profile Complexities abound within the scope of work, budget, management Is there one model or size to assist the process? No one model or size fits all environments Institutions and their cultures approach the challenge differently Commonalities exist for us to learn best practices and adapt those to our environment Our Approach to this Challenge Provide centralized support for large and complex proposal submissions Office reports directly to VPR and works with pre- and post-award, compliance, foundation Provide dedicated space – offices, war room If the project is also a limited competition we manage the selection process OR decide on a strategic set aside Relationship building with partners and ―power infrastructure‖ Research Development Services Office Assess viability for large and complex research projects Assemble research teams and work directly with PI et al Provide ongoing support for proposal preparation and planning Provide guidance and establishes timelines Provide editorial and graphics support Coordinate red team reviews, site visits Assist with management planning Assist with evaluation and assessment plans Assist with budget forecasting and development Factors to Consider Identify a strong faculty lead with knowledge, stature/credibility, commitment and time Have champions - Chair, Dean, VP, Provost Establish realistic timeframes to develop a competitive proposal and for ―red team‖ and editorial reviews Establish a complete understanding and agreement on the RFP requests Have firm commitments for cost share, infrastructure support, space Remember the human nature factor… People will ask what is in it for me??? Who gets credit and recognition? Who gets the F&A? Who controls the budget? Who controls the resources? Addressing administrative issues Establish submission timelines Garner commitment from participants to adhere to timelines Establish robust communication among colleagues (meetings, listserv, website) Define responsibilities for writing, research, and budgeting and the final draft Identify and respond to all proposal requirements Are there special considerations for large and complex projects? Subcontracting – Partners (industry/business, intl’, IHE) Multiple research activities – how do they interrelate Education Plans – recruitment, retention, pipeline, curriculum development, new degrees, etc. Outreach Component – community relationships Data Dissemination Plan Evaluation and Assessment Plan – outcomes, impact Diversity Plan Management Plan Some Pitfalls to Avoid Failure to articulate an integrated scope of work Failure to integrate proposal into a single voice Weak partnerships Weak management plan Unrealistic budget Lack of/or weak letters of commitment and support Helping with site visits Remember what they are all about… It is an inspection and examination Project, individual and team, and institution is under the microscope Can you walk the talk??? Answer unaddressed questions Clearly illustrate strengths and capabilities Show that the PI is the expert in charge Showcase the team as a ―well-oiled machine‖ Show the University administration is fully on board How RDS helps with the site visit Prepare in advance for the site visit Discussion meetings and conference calls Convene a complete rehearsal Assure all key individuals and partners are available and prepared to participate Provide background data on site team members Thank You Denise Wallen email@example.com 505-277-2256 GETTING THE BALL ROLLING Difficult to encourage working across traditional subject matter boundaries e.g., engineers in clinical areas, psychologists in the military, social scientists in the life sciences Silo thinking - lack of ability to envision the application of research interests and tools to different questions YOU MAY HAVE TO HELP Getting the Ball Rolling Overcoming fear of embarrassment and failure Getting folks talking to each other–does beer help? We’ve always done it this way. Why change? Getting the Ball Rolling Letting faculty know about the wide range of available solicitations – they tend to keep knocking on the same doors Convincing faculty to start early Letting faculty know what resources are available on campus Getting the Ball Rolling Interceding early with help in application preparation logistics Release of faculty time to work in groups Negotiating small seed funds within the institution Be available to help or find help for those who want to try SITE VISITS Large multidisciplinary grants nearly always have a site visit Agencies using reverse site visits more and more – Proposal team goes to the locale of the funding agency (usually DC vicinity) – More likely if resources are not critical for program – Make sure you bring along any props you need SITE VISITS Rehearse—several times!! Make sure that there is a dress rehearsal Gather a sophisticated audience–invite folks from other institutions If you can afford it, hire a company that trains for site visits Select your presenters carefully–don’t do a cast of thousands but have all available to answer questions SITE VISITS at Your Place Make sure time is carefully planned but remain flexible Visitors may throw a monkey wrench into your plans and you must go along Visitors may not want to see all you wish to show them. Don’t be surprised SITE VISITS at Your Place Visitors may surprise you by asking to see something or someone unexpectedly–try to accommodate them Plan some time for site visitors to meet with students who might be involved in the project. Enthusiastic students are always a plus SITE VISITS Try to have someone with a sense of humor and a pleasant personality leading the site visit on the campus side Involve senior administrators who can attest to their support for and the importance of the project for your campus The first few minutes can set the tone for the rest of the session and can result in a winner or a loss. Multidisciplinary collaborations benefit from: Mutual interests, consensus on common (delimited) topic Developing a common vocabulary Opportunities to interact – colloquia, research reviews, collaboratories Shared resources, infrastructure New organizational units – non-departmental centers, institutes, research parks Trust & flexibility; charismatic leadership; mutual management New models for collaborations Access to scholarly publications & data Access to funding & resources - money goes to best ideas and these tend more and more to require multidisciplinary partnering Visionary administrators; strong institutional support Individual & institutional challenges Promotion and tenure – recognizing contributions of all parties Specialization vs. synthesis Space assignments F & A recovery distribution Sponsored project credit Administrators understanding of benefits Infrastructure for collaboration Multidisciplinary Proposal Development Team: Goal: To enable greater collaboration among researchers from different disciplines and colleges, To assist them to develop competitive proposals, and To facilitate continued program-building activities and follow-on funding Staffing: RD director; RD analyst; senior writer/editor; outside contract workers, if needed What do we do? • Facilitates preliminary meetings with potential researchers • Helps identify additional collaborators (esp. early career faculty) • Explores ways to make project fit sponsors program • Facilitates proposal planning, preparation, university boilerplate • Assists with communication links, e.g., listservers, conference calls, meetings • Runs interference with chairs, deans (commitments) • Assists with management plan; budget development • Reviews and edits proposal drafts; organizes red team reviews • Assists in inter-institutional partnerships and major university research centers – UC Research Development Group • Helps locate seed, supplemental or follow-on funding UCSB Case Study: Bio-inspired Materials, Biosensors and Information Processing UC Biotechnology Research & Training Grant Program ($200K over 4 years) DoD DURIP for shared instrumentation UCSB Case Study: Bio-inspired Materials, Biosensors and Information Processing DoD MURI: Bio-inspired design and fabrication of new materials and devices W.M. Keck Fdn Science & Technology: Ecotechnology of Coral Reef Restoration All of which eventually contributed to Army UARC: Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies UCSB-led collaboration with MIT, CalTech Interdisciplinary teams of molecular biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers ~$50M+ over 5 years Four areas of emphasis (and growing): – Biomolecular Sensors – Bio-inspired Materials and Energy – BioDiscovery Tools – Bio-inspired Network Science 14 industry partners, including Aerospace Corp, CytomX, Dell, Mitre Corp, Raytheon Vision Systems, Veeco Instruments Some considerations: Know your faculty – Faculty orientations – Expertise databases – Google search in your .edu domain – Brown bag lunches on selected topics – Attend symposia/research reviews in areas ripe for interdisciplinary collaborations Build around faculty interests – Stay connected to research-intensive faculty – Mediated fund searches – seed funding (e.g., internal, SGER, R21, foundations) More considerations: Build on your institutions strengths – e.g., physics, materials, marine/environmental sciences – Consider social science & humanities perspective in natural science & engineering ppls Organize around specific funding opportunities… – NSF Partnerships for International Research & Education – DoD Multidisciplinary Research Initiative (MURI) – NEH Collaborative Projects – NIH Exploratory Centers for Interdisciplinary Research …but make sure PIs are passionate about the topic and willing to commit to work at the proposal stage More considerations: Organize workshops/symposia around specific topics e.g., climate change, nanotechnology, energy efficiency, whatever… working with industry, intellectual property/technology transfer; keys to foundation funding broader impacts effective management structures for large initiatives program evaluation & assessment Invite agency program officers to participate Be visible!