Here, you have the first Newsletter in English. You may feel it a bit strange as all customers of DRS are based in The Netherlands. We are, however, managing several European projects (see below), in which foreign parties are involved. In addition, many scientists in The Netherlands are non-native. So, we shall change our public relations more and more into English starting with this Newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it in English as you did before in Dutch.
DRS is managing several EU-proposals within the framework of Horizon2020, INTERREG-NWE and C-IMP. A proposal for setting up a European research infrastructure is especially a challenging one. A consortium around Leiden University is creating and offering excellent facilities to explore plant metabolites with respect to sustainable crop protection (www.euplantcropp.eu). Building a suitable consortium for a research infrastructure is demanding as we need to deal with three major categories of activities, (i) networking activities, (ii) trans-national access activities, and (iii) joint research activities, rather than doing ‘just’ research. We need a maximum of professional consortium management to set up the research infrastructure successfully.
Scientists need to adopt, in general, a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the scientific challenges of the 21st century. In addition, scientists need to demonstrate impact of their research to obtain grants, i.e. stakeholders need to be involved. Finally, research teams inevitably become international as not all the excellent knowledge and expertise is available within one country. Putting this all together, scientists are facing the challenge to compose and manage international, multi-disciplinary, and multi-stakeholder consortia. Some scientists turn to a rather hierarchical strategy to accomplish the task of a coordinating scientist. Others adopt a non-hierarchical one involving all parties as much as possible to profit at maximum of all the knowledge and expertise available. It is, however, a risky one as (decision) procedures may get stuck in endless discussions. We feel professional consortium management assures the balance between involving all parties at maximum while keeping sufficient progress in writing a proposal, or running a research project.