A big part of my job, as I have said before, is to support income generation for the University. This income normally comes through what we call “third stream funds”, which means anything outside the traditional routes of tuition fees and government funding. So it basically means pursuing external funds for various purposes, including research, market research, enterprise projects and development.
For such funds to be obtained, we first need to go through a long process called “bid-writing” – in other words, writing applications to external funding bodies in order to convince them that we have the relevant expertise and specialization to be awarded the grants they’re offering.
How does bid-writing work?
Obviously each institution has their own rules and policies on how to go about bid-writing and putting in applications for external funding. In my institution, we work closely with the academic concerned, as they are the ones who will be using up the funds. The academic fills out the specialized parts of an application – i.e. how they plan to go about doing the research or managing the project etc. Our office helps by providing full economic costing analysis for the amount applied for, proofreading the application to make sure it’s in plain English, adding supporting data, and occasionally obtaining references to support the application. Also, more often than not, we are the ones who will chase signatures from the academic’s managers, and the ones who will actually gather all the required documents and submit the application. Keep in mind that all this often needs to be done within very tight deadlines.
It’s hard work, but whenever a bid is successful and a grant is awarded, it’s great satisfaction!