Organising an FP7 proposal can feel like a three dimension crossword puzzle – in Martian. It’s overwhelmingly complex, time consuming and depressing. It’s also exciting, and challenging, more than a little scary, and fun – for simple accountants turned salesmen like me at least. In fact it’s like back in the old days, working a big deal with high risk/reward.
- Different specialisms need to collaborate, agreeing scientific objectives to wow the evaluators whilst closely matching the call.
- SMEs need to work with them, adding a commercial dimension – a way to make money out of the results.
- Bureaucrats add their own special sauce to the mix, keeping the whole project inside the FP7 rules.
This is Academia, Small Business and Bureaucracy in a triangle of un-requitable love, doomed to fail – probably. Not a model any sensible businessman would choose, but necessary given the mission, strategy and objectives of the Programme. There’s no gain without the pain, as the fitness coach tells us.
For the record I’m an enormous fan of FP7. (Having been involved in two projects now and working on winning a third, I need to be). The rewards could be huge, eventually. Our partners are experts in their fields. The process includes stringent controls. The sciences are exciting. The objectives are high risk – stuff commercial business won’t take on. The kudos associated with a successful proposal transmits to the entire business, as street credibility.
Where else can an SME get paid for doing interesting stuff, with interesting people, and finish up owning the intellectual property?
The proposal we’re working on now will use virtual reality immersion to deliver personalised care programmes into the homes of neurodegeneration sufferers. Our consortium includes people from Serbia, Greece, Crete, Italy, Lithuania, Holland, Germany and the UK – the brightest and best in their fields.
If successful we’ll win several €millions to cover the costs of a 3 year programme, bring together Europe’s top scientists and clinicians, improve life style for thousands of sufferers and turn the medical device business on it’s head.
We might even make quite a lot of money too.
If only I could understand what these scientists are talking about 🙂