Project deliverable Open Access

BioExcel Deliverable 3.3 – Consultancy Modalities and Funding Options, Half-time Update

Carter, Adam; Harrow, Ian

In the BioExcel project, we are establishing a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for
Computational Biomolecular Research. We expect the centre to interact with its users in many ways, and part of our work in the “Consultancy and User Groups” work package is to inform the project about ways in which the centre could usefully work with its users and the wider biomolecular community.

This document describes work to date on the evaluation of possible consultancy modalities (that is, ways in which we can offer consultancy) and funding options for these modalities. This document focuses primarily on the former, although it also includes a basic classification of how different modalities could be funded. A second version of this document, due in project month 36, will be more conclusive, and will have a greater emphasis on funding considerations.

Core services, for the wider community are likely to be made available free at the point of use, such as services that are accessed primarily through the project’s web site. Some of these are already offered by the Centre such as discussion forums and a webinar series; others, such as a more formal helpdesk could become more important as the Centre becomes more established. These online services can act as a gateway to more in-depth consultancy.

Face-to-face meetings with users provide a means to interact with users to
provide consultancy, and to listen to the community’s priorities. These include interest group workshops, larger community events and training courses.

With partnerships and collaborations, the Centre would have an agreement with the partner to work together, with both parties making some contribution. In this modality, BioExcel engages with a partner over an extended period of time. This can be through partnerships of varying degrees of formality, through to projects in which BioExcel or its partners apply for funding to work together in a larger project. BioExcel’s consultancy services could also be offered as calls to which users apply, consultations or drop-in services.

Professional services for paying customers provide a means to offer more
expensive and more tailored services to companies and other organisations. The customer relationship differs from that for the wider community. These forms of consultancy must offer clear business value underpinned by a legal contract, and therefore often need to be more targeted towards individual customer organisations. These include tailored technical and scientific support services. Industry partner programmes, software management collectives and precompetitive collaborative alliances are also described.

Work in this area will continue throughout the project, and over the next 18
months we will work with WP5 and ensure that feedback from the Centre’s users and pilot projects feed back into the decision-making processes that will define the Centre’s business plan, and service offering.

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