Will outsource for stimulus

Recipe for a startup:

1 part entrepreneurial environment
3 parts enterprising students
1 part stimulus package

Shake it all up and serve hot to hungry research labs.

As you might have heard, the NIH recently announced the Challenge Grant in Health and Science Research (RC1) program, with funding available for around 200 projects at $1M each over two years. It’s an enticing bonanza, for scientists can take a crack at one of these for the measly price of a 12 page grant application. But what if you need to do some computational work (as increasingly more research projects require) and don’t have a computational lab?

minilogoAsk a group of Stanford students and they’ll say it’s easy – just hire us! Calling themselves Stimulomics, they offer “micro consulting for major discoveries,” including data mining and analysis, computational infrastructure, and informatics training. To address the opportunity presented by the stimulus Challenge grants, they are also offering “deferred-payment grant writing” – they produce the informatics component, you pay them only if the grant is funded.

Some people might chafe at the thought of outsourcing but others may see it as an effective way to get things done. These students certainly think it’s a good way to put their existing skills to good use while gaining valuable additional experience in grant writing and interdisciplinary research. And it certainly doesn’t hurt if they get repaid for their efforts.

So what do you think? Will you take these smart young people up on their no-risk offer for your Challenge grant?

**Disclaimer: The folks behind Stimulomics are my colleagues, and they asked me to blog about them.


6 Responses to Will outsource for stimulus

  1. Chris Lasher says:

    “However, as the name implies, these ive to adding computational collaborators to a grant or hiring an in-house technician. As a result, our goal is to provide the high-quality and expert-reviewed services you want, when you need them, and nothing more.”

    A typo leading to an incomprehensible sentence, and an error in diction (i.e., I think the phrase is “nothing LESS”–at least I hope that’s what they intended) in the pitch to PIs document… Well, I’m sure they’ll fix it. They ought to if they’re smart enough to read your blo, and I guess they probably are, since they have the exceptional brightness and drive to make them capable of pulling double-duty on research. I wouldn’t pull that off with my own abilities and limits. Best of luck to them! It’s certainly interesting.

  2. shwu says:

    I think they actually did mean “nothing more”. It’s supposed to be a no-strings attached relationship, they can terminate it as soon as the services requested are delivered, etc. But I noticed the typo in that first sentence, too.

    I should note that I know these guys personally and they asked me to blog about them, so I’m not an impartial observer.

  3. wlad says:

    Sydney Brenner predicted this almost 20 years ago as the logical progression of reagent/assay kits

  4. Have they gotten any institutions to agree to deferred-payment grant writing? I wanted to use that several years ago and there was a problem with getting that authorized.

  5. shwu says:

    @JC, I asked them to keep me updated but haven’t heard anything yet as I believe my post is one of the first (if not the first) public announcement. I didn’t realize it could be tricky to get something like that authorized though.

  6. Pingback: How to get your hands on some stimulus « I was lost but now I live here

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