Learning about Project Management
A personal account of an Early Stage Researcher interning at Eurice
September 16, 2016
by Elliott Price, PhD Student, Royal Holloway University of London & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; UK.
It is a little strange to be writing a news article about myself; however, over the past few months I have written a few for various EU-funded projects and so feel quite adept.
Typically I reside in the laboratory of Prof. Paul D. Fraser at Royal Holloway University of London, coordinator of the DISCO project. The group is involved in many ongoing projects funded in the EU 7th Framework Programme and Horizon 2020 including DISCO, MultiBioPro and TomGEM; as well as numerous national BBSRC initiatives and the CGIAR Research program on Roots, Tubers and Banana.
During my PhD studies, I have gained insight into many projects from our laboratory perspective. I’ve experienced the stress of having to complete work within tight deadlines and the difficulty of scheduling meetings with collaborators due to their hectic schedules. Though my personal struggles have been small, it made me wonder: how are large-scale research projects organised so that the small issues of all partners do not accumulate and hinder progress?
Fortunately for me, one answer was obvious - the three aforementioned EU-funded projects have a dedicated project management company within their consortium: Eurice. Cross-discipline training activities are an integral part of the DISCO project and I have been lucky enough to undertake a three-month internship at the Berlin office of Eurice. From the 1st July until 30th September 2016, I gained practical experience of how the company offers a solution to allow the smooth and efficient running of large research projects, with numerous partners across many countries.
Courtesy of the company website, before my internship commenced I already knew that “Eurice provides comprehensive support services for the planning, initiation and implementation of large, international collaborative R&D projects”. Naïvely, I assumed this simply means Eurice arranges meetings, sends numerous emails and makes phone calls reminding researchers to submit project proposals on time, or hit deadlines for reporting research results. Whilst this is true, Eurice also offers much more!
During my time at Eurice, I have contributed to the development of project proposals and deliverables for reporting of project results, helped identify routes for exploitation of work, written news pieces to disseminate relevant information, gained insight into budget planning and monitoring, navigated the EU Participant Portal, generated branding such as logos and website illustrations and collated information regarding upcoming funding calls or future EU initiatives and priorities; to name just a few of the services offered.
Whilst these solutions seem fairly obvious, it is the holistic provision of dedicated support given throughout the lifetime of projects and regarding all aspects of R&D that makes the team at Eurice indispensable for the projects they partner and vital to the success of large-scale collaborative R&D projects.
I will shortly return to life in the lab and will be taking the huge wealth of experience I gathered in the past three months with me. Crucially, I now fully appreciate that success within R&D is as much reliant on the science as it is on the effective organisation and management of projects.