Friday, October 20, 2006

Deadline eContentplus

It is a long way: from Amsterdam to Brussels to Luxembourg and Maastricht and back to Almere near Amsterdam; it is almost 900 kilometres And all this touring, just to bring a package to the European Commission in Luxembourg, as at 17.00h yesterday was the deadline for the delivery of proposals. Of course it is crazy. The call for e-Contentplus proposals is more than 3 months old, ample time to prepare a proposal in due time and send it to Luxembourg. Bit it seems that adrenalin has to come into play, otherwise the proposal will not be good enough.

The proposal is an old idea in the field of digital libraries. I have been throwing it around for more than two years now. So the basic idea was there all along. But then the problem is to formulate and organise it. For you need a consortium preferably from different countries to support it. In the proposal we formed a consortium of partners and associate partners. The partners are going to carry out the work; the associate partners are being asked to deliver their material to the consortium. We were able to form a consortium of partners in four countries and associate partners in 6 countries. All consortium members know each other and have worked in other projects together.

At the reception in Luxembourg I met an E-Contentplus project officer. He just happened to pass by, coming back from his luncheon. Of course, he was just anxious to see whether there was already a queue of couriers. But seeing that I was the only one with a package, he started a chat. From the talk it was clear that we were not the only consortium putting in a proposal and later on I saw with my own eyes that the proposals were coming in by the lorry-load. I had expected this as the e-Contentplus call is not a call for research projects, but the only call for projects close to the market. For many government institutes, universities and libraries a call is one of the few occasions to pick up extra money for projects.

I am not going to speculate whether we as a consortium are going to be lucky. Of course I am convinced that we have a damn good proposal. But from my experience as an evaluator I know also that this call is going to be Russian roulette: Out of the 250+ proposals (my guess; not of the EC official) in the field of digital libraries only a four or five proposals are going to be selected, depending on sums of money the consortia ask from the Commission.

All together the adrenalin flowed again for more than a week in order to complete the project proposal and get everyone line up, including a party that wanted to join on the last two days. My God what a stress. I have had contact with more than 20 people in the last week; all calls from and to abroad.

But now there is nothing we can do anymore than just sit back and wait. The e-Contentplus project officers are going to read the proposals; they invite experts to evaluate the proposals; and by mid December there will be a present, if the proposal has been selected, or a disappointment. Happily enough the messages arrive just before the season of celebrations. So we will either take a drink on a successful outcome or drink on a failure.


Blog Posting Number 542

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