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23 August 2017
Snapshot: University of Mauritius successfully includes use of a business model for Research Uptake capacity growth Print
Thursday, 26 June 2014 12:15

Unique for including a business approach to its Research Uptake, The Consultancy and Contract Research Management Office at University of Mauritius is a strategic and operational success story. Prof B. Lalljee presented at INORMS2014.

 

A unique business approach

The Consultancy and Contract Research Management Office (R&C Office) at University of Mauritius (UoM)is established, well run and extremely effective. Under the leadership of the Pro-Vice Chancellor this office handles research, consultancy, IPR, patents, conferences, workshops and communication. It is unique amongst the DRUSSA Universities, in that it operates with a business model. University research is teamed with donor/client-focused consultancy as a cost effective enterprise.

The (R&C Office) works with projects and research funded by:

  • Local, regional or international donor agencies/ funding bodies
  • Clients from public and private sectors or civil society organisations

Currently the appellation and functioning of the R&C office are under review. It is significant that since UoM joined the DRUSSA Project and Team, there has been noticeable individual and institutional sensitization to Research Uptake at the university. As a consequence of participation in the DRUSSA Project and the resultant increase of awareness of the possibilities RU strategies allow, we have witnessed a component of Research Uptake being integrated into more and more research projects at UoM. A significant impact of our participation is that UoM’s ‘New Research Strategic Plan’ will integrate Research Uptake as a formal requirement for research projects.

Another interesting development-in-progress at UoM is that a Matching Grant Scheme is being developed as a response to the reality that most funders now ask for financial co-funding.

“As a consequence of participation in the DRUSSA Project we have witnessed a component of Research Uptake being integrated into more and more research projects at UoM”

 

Key Roles of the R&C office

The Research and Consultancy (R&C office) serves as a single centralized unit that promotes consultancy and research work at the university. Its mandate includes fostering University-Industry-Community collaboration, serving as a reputation-building showcase for UoM’s expertise, experience and capacities, acting as a focal point and facilitator, eliminating difficulties and bottlenecks encountered by researchers, providing a level playing field for R&C activities undertaken by University staff, and ensuring transparency and accountability.

From a client-focused perspective the R&C office serves as the official ‘information station’ contact point for clients and potential clients where they can make any enquiry regarding available expertise and resources at University of Mauritius, as well as information pertaining to costs, and for any queries from pre-award state until project wrap-up. The office ensures, amongst other roles, that budget is appropriately managed, protocols are respected and work is completed to the satisfaction of the client; all of which maintains a positive image of UoM nationally, regionally and internationally.

For the researchers, it acts as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all their administrative, technical, legal, and financial-management needs, allowing academics to concentrate on the scientific aspects of their project.

As a central networking platform, the R&C Office brings together the right skills and expertise within the UoM (and, if necessary, externally) required for any project. It takes the lead or assists in forming multidisciplinary teams from different faculties and disciplines, according to project needs.

 

A strategic focus on quality management

With a strong strategic focus on quality management (a significant element of the Research Uptake management skillset), the R&C Office helps to ensure quality outputsby implementing appropriate checks and balances through all stages of a donor-funded or client-contracted project. Through management and monitoring, it plays a role in ensuringprojects are run professionally and systematically to ensure satisfactory completion, and timely submission of deliverables to the donor/client.This includes ensuring there is no breach of the contract/agreement signed between UoM and the donor/client, which may render UoM liable to legal action. It also includes protocol management, ensuring every aspect of university and funder/client protocols are respected.

The R&C office is responsible for authorising payment to researchers after quality checks ensure thatmilestones have been met and deliverables have been appropriately submitted to donor/client.

“The existence of this single centralized unit with the requisite skillsets has many advantages, including allowing researchers to prioritise research knowing they are fully supported by institutional Research Uptake capabilities.”

 

Advantages of this central hub

The existence of this single centralized unit with the requisite skillsets has many advantages, including allowing researchers to prioritise research knowing they are fully supported by institutional Research Uptake capabilities. By design, the R&C office facilitates management of projects undertaken by staff,provides standardisedprocedures and practices, and avoids duplication of equipment and other resources. It also allows fair and equal treatment to all staff regarding allocation and the potential to undertake R & C works, and avoids UoM staff competing with each other for project grants and tender bids. In terms of client management it makes it relatively easier to maintain confidentiality for certain projects that require it, e.g. in the case of some private firms, and also prevents clients from making irregular and unethical demands of researchers, for example insisting that unsubstantiated and incorrectly researched data be used for Environmental Impact Assessments, or to prove superiority of a specific product or brand.

 

More interesting information on UoMs R&C Office

If you’ve found this blog interesting and would like to read more detailed background information prepared by Prof. Lalljee for his presentation at INORMS2014 on Research Uptake developments at University of Mauritius, then click on this link for an interesting read. 


Prof. B. Lalljee
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Mauritius
www.uom.ac.mu


*This blog is an adaptation of the original presentation by Prof. Lalljee, and was informed by the background notes that accompanied his presentation. It was curated and prepared by Louise McCann of OSD, on behalf of the DRUSSA project

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