Suggestions regarding valorisation panels
How do you convince people from public or private organisations to join the valorisation panel of your NWO-MVI project, and how do you keep them engaged?
Every NWO-MVI project comes with a so-called valorisation panel. Such a panel comprises of representatives of governments, businesses, civil society organisations, and citizens who use the innovation that is the subject of the MVI project, who have to take the innovation into account when formulating policy or who may – unintentionally – be affected by it. The valorisation panel ensures that stakeholders are closely involved in the research and that research results are suitable for practical implementation.
During an offsite on April 9th 2018, the NWO-MVI Board invited some fifteen researchers who are active in the various MVI themes and work at different universities to exchange their experiences with valorisation panels. Ellen Moors, professor of Innovation & Sustainability at Utrecht University, was one of these researchers. With her help, we present you with some of the challenges researchers face in the daily practice of valorisation panels, and some best practices and suggestions that were proposed during the meeting.
How do you find interesting candidates for a valorisation panel?
Start from useful existing contacts, either your own or perhaps from your (senior) colleagues, your department or your university. It helps if a company or societal organization has previous experience in collaborating with your university, and knows what is expected from them, and what they can expect from you. Invest time in building long term mutual beneficiary relationships. That way you do not have to start from scratch again for every new project.
How do you convince organisations to invest time and/or money in a NWO-MVI project?
Identify what specific element of your project might be of interest for that specific party, and ask yourself the question what they could gain by joining your valorisation panel. For example, for many industries or societal organizations it is useful to be connected to a university that can act as an independent source of information on delicate subjects they are involved in.
Furthermore, MVI project meetings often turn out to be ‘safe’ environments for companies or interest groups to meet with peers or even competitors, to discuss common issues. During the meetings, they can meet new people besides the ‘usual suspects’ and gain new insights.
How do you make a valorisation panel worthwhile for all parties involved?
Good expectation management upfront is key. All parties have their own expectations and agendas, bring in their own expertise, and probably speak their own language. Invest time at the beginning of the project to get to know each other and to appreciate each other’s expertise and experience. It also helps if you explicitly seek for partners who share the same ideals.
How do you assure lasting commitment?
It starts with getting the right people on board. Connect with the people who have decision-making authority within their organization. This also helps to make sure that in the end you will get their signature under the required project agreements.
Furthermore, you should make the regular meetings worthwhile for anyone to invest their scarce time in. Keep the meetings short and to the point, and vary with the set-up. Ask for example one of the panel members to set the agenda for one of the meetings. And since typically at the first project meeting, there aren’t many research results to be discussed yet, perhaps you could start by inviting the members of the valorisation panel (or possibly a smaller group of participants) to discuss specific issues and use their input to increase the focus of the project.
A list of suggestions regarding valorisation panels given at the meeting:
- Explicitly express all expectations. Different parties have different backgrounds and interests and speak different languages. Try to get this on the table.
- Collaboration has a greater chance of success if the ideals of the project and those of the parties involved in the valorisation panel match.
- Use the members of the panel to disseminate relevant research results through their own channels, such as through relevant disciplinary journals.
- Use the valorisation panel not only to gain feedback on the project and for disseminating research results, but also for expanding your network.
- Have regular contact with panel members to keep them active and motivated and make sure meetings are worthwhile and fun. For example, every once in a while ask members of the valorisation panel to set the agenda.
- There may be valid reasons for changing or expanding the composition of the valorisation panel during the course of the project. So, it is advisable to keep the setup of the valorisation panel rather flexible during the project.