Champagne celebration or long faces?
Associate professor Martin Brynskov from the Department of Aesthetics and Communication - Participatory Information Technology is one of the more seasoned researchers when it comes to applying for external funding, often together with many international partners.
Applied for EUR 7.2 million
He has also been involved in sending multiple applications here in the first round of applications to the new EU framework programme Horizon 2020 (H2020). For instance, he is the coordinator for a main application for a grant of EUR 7.2 million from the Information and Communication Technologies sub-programme under the section entitled Industrial Leadership.
"Twenty-six have applied. They can finance around five research projects, so we have a one in five chance. I’ve got no idea how close we are. But we certainly haven’t spent that much time on this because I think our chances are slim.”
How will you react if you get the grant?
"If we get it then, of course, we’ll break open the champagne."
And if you do not get the grant?
"Then they’ll be a lot of long faces because of all the work we’ve put into it," laughs Martin Brynskov. He continues:
"But if that’s how things turn out then our job is to use this in a different way. So we will apply for some other money in similar constellations."
Member of the expert group
Martin Brynskov is also one of the researchers involved in one of the six expert groups that have been appointed in an attempt to attract more external research funding to Aarhus University.
His assessment is that the groups primarily play a role externally in relation to promoting AU's interests in dialogue with e.g. the Danish Council for Independent Research on a national level. And also in dialogue with similar international expert groups who contribute to shaping the new EU framework programme H2020.
The groups have been pathfinders
"The expert groups have acted as pathfinders for the opportunities that lie outside of AU.
Government agencies and institutions who publish calls want to receive input from as many areas as possible. They clearly prefer to receive coordinated, qualified input because it makes their job easier if we can express ourselves with one voice. And if we also involve a lot of partners then it’s also easier for those who have to process the inputs if we can say: All of us from Denmark, Scandinavia or Northern Europe think this and this."
Strategic work systematised
On the other hand, Martin Brynskov is more in doubt about whether the expert group in which he sits has succeeded in another of their tasks, which is to try and establish greater awareness in the academic environments about the possibility of applying for external funding earmarked for less experienced researchers.
"I’ve been myself involved in communication about EU start-up funding that disappears in a couple of hours because there are so few grants. So it’s therefore important that the researchers who can benefit from the programme actually know something about it. But I haven’t found that we, as a group, have had much luck with our communication to the academic environments."
Rather he finds that the expert groups have contributed internally by making it easier to enter into a dialogue with the research support unit.
"We now have an ongoing dialogue and that means that the research support unit knows what’s going on in the research teams. So instead of us just coming by once in a while to say: "Hi, now it’s time to for that application, can I help?", and that being the moment from which the research support unit begins working on understanding the entire project, what we have done is systematise the strategic work of providing support for research applications at AU."
Translated by Peter Lambourne