Grant Prix Ideas Workshop – just what the doctor ordered

11 August 2021

Led by Paul Holloway, Early career advisors Chloe Whitehouse, Matthew Hockley, and Luana Osório, from the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network ran a very successful, online workshop held on 15 & 16 July - encouraging participants to develop skills needed to kick start project ideas that could help lead to future funding.

The event attracted 22 early career researchers including research fellows, post docs and PhD students working within the organs-on-chip field from across the UK and beyond. The workshop helped participants build the techniques needed to develop original project ideas and get their point across quickly and effectively for preliminary fellowship applications, seed funding and small project awards.

Paul was delighted with how well participants interacted and worked together:

"It was great to see some really innovative ideas coming from the groups. From groups of strangers with a mix of backgrounds, interests and skill sets we ended up with some quite plausible research proposals in under two days! And hopefully people made some new friends and connections along the way."

Using a mixture of presentations and interactive activities and breakout groups, ECRs were able develop ideas generation techniques; received tips and tricks from funding bodies; learn of opportunities for pump prime funding and fellowships from the NC3Rs and AFRUK. Using these skills and tips participants developed project ideas in groups and in just two days, had written a grant application to imaginary funding bodies.

Chrysanthi Maria Moysidou, post-doctoral research associate from Cambridge University attended the event:

"This was a super engaging workshop – really well planned and organised. Putting together a fictional small grant with people I hadn't met before was both fun and challenging! I got really useful tips from other participants, ECR advisors and invited speakers which I'm definitely going to implement in my research and grant applications. The talks gave me a better perspective on the whole process of writing grants. I now realise that I shouldn't be afraid that my ideas might be wrong - that you don't start with the perfect idea! It's ok to begin by writing things down, kick starting the journey towards producing your final proposal."

Project ideas produced by each team were judged by peer review and funding body speakers. The winning team was announced at the workshop award event on Gathertown held in August – with mini awards and sweets from the imaginary funding bodies in lieu of real research funding!

The network is part of a major new Research Councils UK (RCUK) venture called Technology Touching Life [1] involving joint research council funding, which aims to foster interdisciplinary research into innovative technology in the health and life sciences.

If you are interested to find out more about the network, including the work of the ECR advisors, please visit our website

Updated by: Julia Coffey