Investigators lack opportunities for novel interactions with partners with whom they do not ordinarily collaborate, either because they haven’t had the opportunity to meet each other by virtue of operating in different disciplines or locations, or because there has been neither a straight-forward mechanism nor incentive to look outside one’s usual circle of partners.
- Provide an opportunity for scientists to meet research, community, and/or community partners outside their usual circle of collaborators in order to foster a broader network partnership through a designated networking event;
- Provide seed-funding for up to three collaborative projects per event in the amount of approximately $5,000 each for feasibility pilot studies that encourage new collaborations, new methods, and/or innovative interdisciplinary research approaches to outstanding translational healthcare issues; and
- Aide in the transition of funded projects to further larger, enabling projects.
In an effort to encourage collaborations across disciplinary, geographical, or institutional boundaries, the Research Development Office (RDO) will facilitate a series of interactive events that will bring targeted investigators and community, affiliate, and/or commercial partners together and incentivize innovative collaborations.
These “Speed-Networking” events will provide a structured environment in which each researcher will have an opportunity to meet potential outside collaborators in a prescribed format. Additional social interaction time will then allow interested parties an opportunity to continue specific threads of inquiry. Potential partners will ultimately complete a card indicating their interest in speaking further with one or more of the participants. The RDO will manage the follow-up from these events.
The particular focus area for any single event could be selected strategically to support larger campus initiatives or be uniquely chosen to “test the waters” for new areas of potential strategic importance.
Initially, ten separate Speed-Networking events will be planned over the course of a year. The RDO will work with CTSI leadership to identify both the specific focus of an event and the cadre of participant researchers and outside partners. The number of participants will be capped at 30 to ensure adequate interaction time. The RDO will manage all the logistics, including invitations, securing meeting space, arranging food and beverage as needed, and setting-up the event space and materials. The RDO will also lead participants through the event and manage all follow-up.
- “Slush” Time (20 min.): the success of this event in part depends on all attendees being punctual; light refreshments, therefore, will be available during this time to allow for casual conversation and serve as “slush” time for stragglers to arrive
- Introduction (5 min.): the RDO team leader will introduce the program, focusing on the intent, format, and financial incentive
- Rotations (1 hr.): four-minute rotations between each set of attendees, allowing all investigators to meet all potential partners around a short set of pre-designed questions (e.g., who, what, what if, and how might we)
- Free Association (20 min.): people are able to reconnect with a partner with whom there is a “spark” and pursue their shared interest a bit more, potentially developing a more concrete vision of a collaborative project
- Next Steps (10 min.): each attendee will fill out a card identifying her/his top three choices for collaboration; the RDO team leader will close the event by informing participants of next steps and timeline
After the event, “matches” will be identified by the RDO team based on participants’ mutual identification. The RDO will reach out to these partners, inviting each “match” to prepare a simple, two-page proposal describing their feasibility or pilot project and associated budget needs of up to $5,000. The target goal would be to have these due within three weeks of the event, if possible. CTSI leadership, with the assistance of the RDO, will make the final funding decision, based on both the likelihood of project success and a fit with CTSI strategic goals. The goal is to make these funding decisions within about five weeks of the event, if possible. For projects not outlined or funded as a result of this event, it is important to note the tremendous value in the networking component for potential future collaborations and faculty satisfaction. For funded projects and where appropriate, the RDO will collaborate with the Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances (ITA), as well as the appropriate UCSF community engagement office, to foster success in the translation of the idea.
There are three specific returns on investment of the Speed-Networking event that will be measured: 1) the number of researchers that participate in a networking event will be counted; 2) the direct benefit to future collaboration activity made possible by supporting the generation of preliminary data and providing evidence of prior collaboration; this will be measured by following funded projects and capturing the percentage that go on to receive related funding from extramural sources, initiate new contracts, or otherwise move to further the collaboration; and 3) the participant satisfaction value, which will be measured through a short survey instrument sent at the end of each event. The RDO will track and report these measures.
PROPOSED PROGRAM BUDGET
In the first year, we plan to facilitate ten speed networking events. Each event will target 30 participants, leading to the funding of two or three $5,000 pilot proposals. While the RDO will leverage resources from its Building Teams for Innovative Research (BTIR) program personnel for this Speed-Networking program, additional resources will be needed to facilitate the program at a rate of approximately one FTE per three events. We also plan to minimize the logistical event costs by utilizing freely available facilities on campus wherever possible. The anticipated costs are presented in Table 1 below.
Cost for 3 Events
Costs for 10 Events
Event logistics, including beverages, food, paper goods, copying (assuming ~$500 per event)
Pilot Proposal Award, assuming 30 awards per event, at $5,000 per award
Two FTEs, at $80,000 each
Total Annual Proposed Budget
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