We had an interesting discussion in the comments to the CCCP concept note on who should be in the consortium. I think it is interesting because it gives me the chance to explain better how these consortia are coming together, and how we can navigate them.
In essence: @rachel and @winnieponcelet are both providing input. Both see themselves in the consortium. But, so far, only Winnie’s Biofabrication Forum is listed as a partner, whereas Rachel’s Hackuarium is not. What gives?
Here’s what gives: consortia come together as a sort of coordination game. Almost never does one partner have all the necessary resources of expertise, administrative solidity, impressiveness of brand, political clout etc. to win alone, no matter who else gets involved. In general, you need to go about this job by securing these resources from different people.
In CCCP-SSSR there is a sort of two-pronged leadership. ER is itself one of the prongs. But it is not the consortium coordinator. Reason: as a new company, we would never pass the financial validation that coordinating partners must pass. Second reason: we are not that experienced at this game, and we want someone else to help build a “pitch perfect” partnership and proposal, someone who has better intelligence into the Commission than we have. This someone is the Lisbon Council. I know them well, and trust them.
They have pointed out that this partnership is very interdisciplinary, so it needs partners who can stand guard at each ingredient in the mix. But then, it becomes big and unwieldy (9 partners already), raising coordination costs. We cannot justify two partners in the same area, they say. I agree, and anyway they have last word in strategic matters.
So, I propose three solutions and a reflection. The solutions:
Replace Biofab Forum with Hackarium.
Have Biofab Forum hire Hackuarium people to participate in the project (or the other way around). Or give fellowships, even: this is how we ourselves tried to support Reagent during 2017 (and Woodbine and GalGael).
Hackuarium and/or Biofab Forum dig out some other funding opportunity, where we apply with some variant of CCCP. We would be happy to participate, helping out with the writing etc.
Do you see any of them as viable?
The reflection is this. We are doing our best to dream up new and better ways that all of us, as a community, can support ourselves and the work. In Edgeryders core we are happy to take on some of the heavy lifting of doing the intel work (@anique.yael) , sitting in meetings (Anique again) and writing concept notes and proposals (mostly me). But that does not mean we can wave our magic wand and make things happen. Expecting this will only lead to frustration. We have no magic wands, only shovels, and we are shoveling as hard as we can.
So, what can you do to make the most out of it? I would say two things. First: try to copy what we are doing in your own space. As I said above, we are happy to help you put together a proposal in which you would be leading and we would be supporting. We will not stop looking for opportunities, so the net result will be that the everyone in the research network will be looking out for opportunities for the whole network – more shoveling. And the result of that is risk reduction and more revenue to go around.
And second: try to keep in mind that this is unpaid work for Edgeryders. Treat it as a friendly gesture (about 40% of our labor costs go to non-Edgeryders directors); even if it does not go all the way you want to go, it still is made in love, and hopefully still has a positive sign.