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Request for comment: ABN Connection Grants

Dear Friends,

I am writing to get your feedback on an idea that seeks to catalyse new and productive connections for Australian bioinformatics. My hope is that your ideas and input will help improve the concept before we put anything into action.

At this stage, I envision that we would call for ABN Connection Grant proposals every six months or so and review applications in conjunction with information about issues of importance to Australian bioinformaticians and bioscientists.

Could you take a look at the following and add a comment to indicate that you think it's heading in the right direction, or to suggest an improvement?

I'm taking leave from October 3-21 and will aim to act on comments, ideas and suggestions after that.



ABN Connection Grants

The Australian Bioinformatics Network aims to connect people to increase the benefits Australian Bioinformatics can deliver. The ABN Connection Grants Scheme exists to catalyse new and productive connections for Australian bioinformatics in ways that complement what we can achieve through alone. Travel funding, support for national and international visitors, sponsorship of meetings that strengthen professional networks are all in the scope of ABN Connection Grants.

We also want to use ABN Connection Grants to learn how this kind of funding scheme can work better in future. We expect there will be things we can improve, but it is vital for us to make a start so we can learn what they are.

Aims and Principles

  • ABN Connection Grants serve to fund activities that strengthen connections between people, so Australian bioinformatics can deliver even more benefit.
  • This includes funding for activities such as
    • Travel for face-to-face meetings, presentations, learning and development
    • Meetings (e.g., through contributions to venue hire,  catering)
    • Event registration, provided there is a commitment to share information from that event with members of the Australian Bioinformatics Network.
  • This excludes funding for
    • Products and services
    • Activities that affect only the individual applicant.
  • Funding requests are open to all. Decisions will be based on how well they fit with these aims
  • All proposals will be published to members of
  • Funding proposals for projects which have matching fund contributions will be highly regarded
  • Funding will be commensurate with potential impact
    • For example, a request for support for a visit from a research leader who would present to and interact with audiences across Australia could expect a greater level of funding than an individual seeking travel funding to attend a conference
  • Funding decisions will seek to address issues important to Australian bioinformatics communities
    The review process will take into account information submitted to about significant issues
  • Funding decisions will be made by a panel of reviewers drawn from the Australian Bioinformatics Network
    • We will seek to engage reviewers from across Australia, who represent a diverse range of perspectives
    • We will seek to ensure a fair review process in line with the Scheme’s aims
  • Applicants will be asked to complete the following pro-forma:

ABN Connection Grant Proposal

Proposal title:

A one-line title we can use to refer to this proposal

Lead applicant:

Your name and affiliation

Other applicants:

Names and affiliations of any other applicants

Brief description of the proposed activity

Write up to 100 words to summarise what you are proposing to use this funding for. Your concepts and ideas need to be consistent with the aims of the ABN Connection Grants Scheme, avoiding technical terms and jargon. It is important to remember that persons reviewing this proposal will be scientists, but will not necessarily understand highly specialised topics outside their field. The most compelling statements will be clear, concise and straightforward to understand.

How will the proposed activity strengthen connections between people so that Australian bioinformatics can deliver more benefit?

Describe the proposed activity and how it will strengthen connections between people so that Australian bioinformatics can deliver more benefit. Note that we stress “connections”—this scheme is meant to help catalyse new and productive connections. While an applicant may benefit strongly from the proposed activity, proposals that affect only the applicant will not be funded. This does not rule out proposals for training or conference attendance, but it does require the applicant to indicate how that experience will be shared with others in some meaningful way. This could be achieved by proposing to give a seminar, or sharing a written review, or using social media to broadcast aspects of the course or conference to the Australian Bioinformatics Network.

What funding do you seek and how would you use the funding?

Give a brief statement explaining the amount of funding you seek from the ABN, and how you would use it to support the proposed activity. If these funds would be used in conjunction with investments from other sources, please describe how the overall investment would be used.

Is there any other information we should be aware of?

Use this space to add any information that makes your proposal more compelling.

<Your Name> – Brief CV

The completed pro-forma must

  • Be no more than 3 A4 pages long: 2 pages for the proposal 1 for the CV
  • Be renamed as <Lastname, Firstname>.docx
    • E.g., if your name was Albert Einstein you would rename this application Einstein, Albert.docx before submitting it

Proposals that fail to meet these criteria may not be reviewed.
Please delete this box from your application.


Reader Comments (5)

David, great initiative. Is there an indication of lower and upper bounds for funding (yet)?

September 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah Boyd

Excellent question Sarah, and a tough one to answer. One of the reasons for wanting to run this every six months is that it gives us time to compensate for fluctuations in our available funds. My guess is that we're in a position to fund about $25k worth of grants this first time (I'm being cautious).

Have a look at our investments to see what we've kicked the can for so far. I would be thrilled if communities in each state asked for support for local meetings.

I'm impressed that you have made the grants and amounts public like that. Transparency all the way!

October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTorsten Seemann

I think the idea of these grants is great! One use case: there's been plenty of times there is an international visitor who it would be great to see speak, but they only go to one city, but if we could fund them to pop down to MEL or up to BNE etc they could reach a bigger audience.

October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTorsten Seemann

I think this is a brilliant idea!

I'm excited by this because much of this aligns nicely with what we are trying to do with BIG SA. Having the opportunity to get funding for local bioinformatic events would be extremely helpful!

I echo Torsten's comments regarding being open. With Australia being a pretty small bioinformatics player, in global terms, and being geographically distant from each other, I think it is vitally important that we are able to access this level of information to strengthen the national bioinformatics community.

I also support Torsten's comments about funding domestic travel for international visitors, especially for those states which might otherwise find it more difficult to attract such visitors on their own. To facilitate this I would like to request the establishment of some sort of mechanism whereby these visitors are publicised more openly. This would then allow such domestic travel to be arranged. This may be as simple as advertising the fact you have someone visiting or maybe something more elaborate.

I assume that by saying the grants will support "meetings" this also means hosting of "events" more generally that fit within the scope of what the ABN is all about?

Good stuff!

October 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterNathan Watson-Haigh
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