Getting Started

Once the award comes in, it’s a good idea for the lead institution to call a meeting of all the partners and collaborators, if only to shake hands and pat each other on the back, and remind each other of what you agreed to do and the timeline for doing it.

Although everyone will be in the midst of other projects, possibly other proposals, and certainly other demands on their time, the best collaborations hit the ground running. There are contracts to be signed, papers to be filed, email lists to be assembled, and a governance structure to be put in place. Sometimes changes to the plan will have resulted through negotiations with the funder, or through back-and-forth negotiations on questions raised by the program officer. Sometimes, conditions on the ground have changed, or key personnel have moved off. So the goals and timelines and responsibilities typically need to be readdressed, readjusted, or at least reconfirmed. Also, once the grant has been awarded, the clock starts running. If you budgeted to spend a certain amount in the first year of the grant, or to accomplish a certain amount, you need to get going. Sometimes you have to hire new staff and train them. This is not to say that you cannot often get extensions on grants and rollover funds from year to year, but that route is best regarded as a fallback position. This is the time to look back over the advice on building a good partnership, as presented in Section Two, and apply it.

Congratulations. You have been given the opportunity to some wonderful, meaningful work, with some great partners, and a new opportunity to expand minds and hearts.

Next, in Section Five: Partnerships in Nanoscale Informal Science Education, we take a look at why this subject is such a fertile area for science museums seeking education outreach partnerships with research centers; the kinds of resources that are available; and case studies of particular forms of partnerships. We also take a look at the philosophy behind tackling nanoscale science and other emerging technologies in our science museums.

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