Optimizing the Pre-award phase for Discovery and Innovation in Research

Information Technology
Information Technology
The Pre-award phase represents a crucial stage of the University of Ottawa's research lifecycle, occurring prior to the allocation of funding or contracts. During this pivotal phase, meticulous preparation and submission of proposals and grant applications take place, targeting funding agencies and sponsors.

In today's rapidly evolving research landscape, funding is pivotal in driving impactful discoveries and scientific breakthroughs. Optimizing our internal administrative processes within the Pre-Award phase of the Research Lifecycle will reduce costs and time spent by the research teams in finding opportunities, developing, and submitting applications. Providing the tools required to optimize the Pre-award phase will contribute towards increasing our grant application success rates. 

As part of our analysis, we consulted with other Canadian universities who have graciously given their time to discuss their Pre-award process, their pain points, the tools they use, and insights into how they have optimized their processes and lessons learned. During our analysis and numerous consultations with our research community, we have successfully identified the areas of potential optimization and the pain points that need to be addressed. The challenge that awaits us will be to remove or lessen the pain points without the proliferation of siloed new systems; the solution must be accessible and foster cohesion. 

Benefits will include:  

  • Enhancements in the grant and contract application process flow 

  • A reduction of manual activities and delays to lessen the administrative burden on Researchers, Faculties and Services staff 

  • Efficiencies in the review, signature, approval, and submission process  

  • An increase in successful grant application rates. 

Phase two of the project will include translating the pain points into stakeholder and system requirements, conducting a market analysis of potential solutions, selection and prioritization of the implementation efforts. 

Our uOttawa Research community is enthusiastic as the Pre-Award phase optimization work has long been identified as an area requiring attention and was initially included as part of the 2016 Research Roadmap.  
In alignment with Transformation 2030 and our Digital Campus Transformation Plan, this initiative will support the development of a holistic digital vision and roadmap that will enable the transformation of higher education capabilities; it will ensure technology investments are institutionally driven and strategically aligned to reduce any administrative burden. 

Innovation, trust, transparency, and collaboration have all been vital pillars throughout this transformative process. With a clear understanding of the areas brimming with potential for optimization, the path ahead is illuminated with possibilities. 

This project is sponsored by Research Management Services (RMS) under the supervision of Terry Campbell and led by ITS – Research, including Lee-Anne Hupé, David Thompson, Pierre-Alexandre Ladouceur and Paul Mercier.