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BC Launching GrantScape to Aid Faculty Research

11/15/12

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Nov. 15, 2012

Boston College faculty have an innovative new tool to aid them in identifying and pursing private funding for their research.

Launched this week by University Advancement’s Corporate and Foundation Relations Office, GrantScape is a searchable online database of private funding requests for proposals specially designed for Boston College faculty.

Private support is a vital part of Boston College’s research enterprise, with approximately one third of the University’s external research funding coming from corporate and foundation funders, according to Advancement administrators.

“GrantScape will streamline the process of identifying and pursuing private funding opportunities and, hopefully, increase private research funding for our faculty,” said School Development and Organizational Giving Executive Director Ginger Saariaho, who led the effort to bring GrantScape to fruition along with her colleague Kathy Kuy, acting director of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

The database is searchable by keyword, funder, school, department, topic area, or investigator level. Listings have detailed information on each funding opportunity, including deadline, eligibility information, restrictions and names of previous BC recipients. Corporate and Foundation Relations staff are available to assist faculty in the application process.

Saariaho said she had dreamed for years of a way to improve the cumbersome process of matching private funding opportunities with faculty research. Her office previously had sent periodic e-mails containing information on deadline-driven private funding to a list of faculty contacts.

About 18 months ago, a proposal by Saariaho and Kuy to modernize and overhaul the process was funded by Information Technology Services. GrantScape was designed by Advancement Information Systems with assistance from an outside developer. Restricted to the Boston College community, the database contains funding opportunities for early-career, mid-career, and senior faculty as well as postdoctoral fellows. GrantScape is accessible from both desktop computers and mobile devices.

Faculty can not only search GrantScape, but also subscribe to it. There are two e-mail subscription services: GrantScape Bulletin, which disseminates all funding opportunities and deadlines five to six times a year, and Funding Alerts, which sends a notification whenever a new opportunity is posted that matches a user’s pre-selected criteria.

Listings on funding opportunities can be saved in folders or e-mailed to colleagues and collaborators.

Saariaho said there are other search engines out there, but it is rare to find a research university with its own customized funding database. She said the functionality and user-friendly design of GrantScape makes it a “best in class” example.

“GrantScape is an innovative tool that will enable faculty to identify and pursue private funding.  I'm pleased that CFR has spearheaded this initiative and hope that faculty will find this to be a valuable resource,” Larry McLaughlin, Vice Provost for Research.

Project managers based the GrantScape design on extensive suggestions from faculty, who tested the database earlier this fall and offered their assessments. Saariaho said she is grateful for the support provided by McLaughlin, Academic Technology Executive Director Rita Owens, ITS Director of Research Services and Faculty Liaison Barry Schaudt, Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures Associate Professor/Faculty Tech Contact leader Michael Connolly, Vice President for Development Thom Lockerby and the Faculty Technology Contacts group.

Currently GrantScape has information only on cyclical, deadline-driven requests for proposals, but Saariaho said she envisions future versions of GrantScape that include other more general types of private funding awards as well as possibly public funding opportunities.

“I’m thrilled with GrantScape,” said Saariaho. “I’m really excited about sharing this new tool with the faculty.”

GrantScape will be demonstrated to faculty at an Instructional Design and eTeaching Services luncheon on Dec. 6. Find GrantScape at www.bc.edu/grantscape.