Some of you may recall that the RSA had been pursuing the idea of a ‘Research Matchmaking Portal’ that would link university researchers with commissioning organisations who may be in need of research support. The rationale was fairly simple: to raise awareness of the latent student research capacity that is out there and to provide an accessible platform for organisations to search for assistance that will aid their endeavours.
For the students, these partnerships would allow them to apply their knowledge to real world projects, build networks in their chosen disciplines and secure new sources of funding for their work. For the commissioning organisations, partnerships would allow them to access nascent research talent at a reasonable price and provide them with a bespoke end ‘product’ which could be used to improve their operations. In practice, this might mean a health and social care undergraduate helping a national care home service find innovative new ways of improving the quality of care on offer, or it might be a business management MA student working through a new business plan for a start-up firm looking to expand their services into new markets.
Although such a matchmaking service is currently provided to an extent within individual universities (think of the Knowledge Transfer teams), our sense is that the Research Matchmaking Portal would be able to add value on top of this through a number of different ways. For instance, it would enable the formation of research partnerships between parties in different parts of the country; it would create a more welcoming space for smaller organisations like charities and social enterprises who may be hesitant about going through conventional university channels; and it would offer a platform for the dissemination of useful resources, how-to guides, contract templates etc. for researchers, often not available to them through their universities.
Our plan is now to build a beta version of the Research Matchmaking Portal and grow it from there. Over the next few months the RSA is going to be working with a small group of social innovators to put an initial website together, to trial it with willing universities and then to open it up more fully after the necessary improvements have been made.
To help us in that effort, we’re keen to get a better sense of the type of demand out there for such a tool (e.g. is it more popular among undergraduates or masters students) and the various functions that potential users would like it to have.
If you are or have been a student researcher, or if you’ve ever had some form of involvement with innovation in an organisation, we would be very grateful if you could complete this 2-3 minute survey.