I have the impression that more and more Knowledge Institutions establish a Valorisation Unit. We have been involved with a couple of them and based on those experiences I like to share some of the steps we advised to follow.
What is ‘valorisation’?
Wikipedia defines: “Valorisation” is a term used in the vocational training community, in academia and in project management. In this sense, it refers to getting the maximum value and usefulness out of education programmes and managed projects, by generalizing what has been learnt from the specialist experiences to other, related fields. In this modern sense of the word, the European Commission defines the term as “a process of exploiting project learning and outcomes (training products and processes, methodology, course materials etc.) with a view to optimising their value and impact in existing and new contexts (target groups, companies, sectors, training institutions and systems etc.)
In Knowledge Institutions we see ‘Valorisation’ as an instrument to encourage scientists to prepare proposals to funding agencies to disseminate and widen the scope of their research findings.
Why offer support with ‘valorisation’?
Obviously Knowledge Institutions can profit a lot from such new funding sources in addition to raising their reputation.
However, drafting project proposals by scientists seems not to be that easy and is often confused with drafting research proposals…..
As such, project proposals written by scientists tend to focus on the technical solution. Indeed the scientist is thrilled by the idea to disseminate the technical solution, and digs in elaborating, but public funding agencies are usually more interested in the social benefits or specific problems in society the solution will solve…. the IMPACT. This is a totally different ball game and scientists need to have their eyes opened towards this different perspective.
Helping scientists to discover the ‘WHY of the project’ in terms of benefits for society by solving specific problems to determine the relevance is often quite new to them. As they consider themselves as the experts, making them explore this blank spot outside their ‘box’ is often a real challenge….
Valorisation Units scan interests and opportunities (calls) with funding agencies on the one hand and on the other search for potential project ideas among scientists within their institutions.
Our 5-step procedure
We like to reflect with you the 5-step procedure we advised in building up this ‘matchmaking’ function.
1. As a basis, everybody involved should speak the same language. In particular how funding agencies perceive projects and what they expect from consortia or partnerships and Project Management.
2. Coaching or advising scientists is an art that can be learnt. We use the video, the ‘never blinking eye’, as very powerful reflection and learning tool in simulated coaching sessions …
3. Getting support from senior management and the Board and helping them in a workshop to establish priorities for the Knowledge Institution will help in developing focus and concentration themes.
4. Creating a small expert team within the Valorisation Unit to become the ‘Help-desk’ on matchmaking and also on monitoring and learning (!), that can support colleagues and develop support documentation and ‘How to’ – guides.
5. External independent facilitators can further help larger more complex partnerships to design relevant, feasible and sustainable projects.
Please do share your experiences and thoughts below.