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Digital Science welcome Glasgow-based grants management system provider to DS family

22nd January 2019
By Alex Jackson

Earlier today, we announced that CC Technology joined the Digital Science family in late 2018. It’s a pleasure to welcome the CCT team to Digital Science and we’re  excited about adding a new set of capabilities, relationships and technologies for many reasons, some of which we’ll share in this blog. Digital Science has been working closely with funders since 2013 through our investment in UberResearch and we’re thrilled to have another portfolio company, especially one that has so distinguished itself in working with more than 40 research funders, providing them with a technology solution to help underpin  their core mission to identify, fund and manage the right research proposals.

CCT provides a modern, configurable grants management workflow system to leading research funders, public bodies, and international development charities throughout the world, including the Wellcome Trust, Caribbean Development Bank, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US. CCT’s software CC Grant Tracker  is a best-in-class solution that manages the entire end-to-end lifecycle of a grant: From the launch of a call for proposals through technical and financial performance monitoring, to the monitoring and evaluation of outcomes, evaluation and impact.

Our colleagues on the UberResearch team have known and collaborated with the CCT team for more than 10 years, and joint clients have asked us about the possibility of closer links between our two organisations for a number of years. It made a lot of sense to bring CCT into the Digital Science family. It’s both a cultural fit, in terms of the way we both use a highly configurable product solution to deliver client requirements, as well as our shared missions in supporting the business process and decisions that help to ensure the right research receives funding. This partnership now offers huge potential for funders bringing the CCT and Digital Science offerings together.

“We’re very pleased and proud that the CCT team has agreed to join Digital Science and we look forward to working together to support funders in growing opportunities to transform the research ecosystem for the benefit of all.” – Daniel Hook, CEO Digital Science

The roles, activities and dependencies of the players in the research process are changing

In the past five years, we have seen different parts of the research process become more interlinked and interdependent. Two examples come to mind straight away:

  • ORCID has become a central “glue”, not just being a registry of data about people but profoundly linking the data of funders, publishers and research organisations. ORCID continues to lay the groundwork for closer integration of all the different parts of the ecosystem and on resolving core challenges around the ambiguity of researchers and their outputs.
  • Open Access is becoming the dominant channel to publish scholarly work that has received public funding. Over the last few years, funders have shifted their focus from simply funding research and collecting and analyzing the resulting outputs, to taking a more active role in shaping the research ecosystem. With ‘cOAlition S’ there is a clear move to make research more open and hence to speed up the rate and efficiency with which researchers can achieve results. Some funders are even becoming publishers, a trend that we may well see accelerating in years to come.

These are just two examples of how funders and others are changing how research is done. These changes are welcomed by many but lead to new requirements, the need for new data to inform decisions and, consequently, new features in existing software tools. And it requires an understanding of backgrounds and intended or unintended ripple effects in other parts of the system.

How our shared values can support this change

As we’ve said many times, Digital Science is not a single company but rather a portfolio of companies, brought together by a shared set of values. This unique approach means that  small and innovative companies can remain focused on a particular challenge that supports the increasingly intertwined needs of the stakeholder groups of the research ecosystem. CCT clearly shares the Digital Science core values and will continue to focus its efforts on improving the interactions between researchers, institutions, and research funders to deliver enhancements for all the participants in funding activities through their core application processing and grant management system CC Grant Tracker.

“After years of discussions what we could do together to provide better and more joint up tools to our shared clients we are now able to just do it within the Digital Science family! I’m really excited to work with the wonderful CCT team on bringing our expertise, skills and products together!” – Christian Herzog, co-founder Dimensions / ÜberResearch

Beyond their core focus CCT will also collaborate with other parts of Digital Science, pursuing integrations that support and improve processes that relate to funders and that have impacts beyond funders. These activities are guided by some important principles, which are part of the shared values between CC Technology and Digital Science:

  • Support of an open and interoperable system approach, no ‘lock-in’. The CCT and other Digital Science products and services are offered together, but have, or will develop, powerful APIs to allow them to be integrated with any other system;
  • CCT is joining Digital Science, but like all the other portfolio companies will retain its culture and focus, but will have extended opportunities to innovate supported by Digital Science. Our approach has been well received by portfolio companies joining Digital Science and by the community with which we work. In a fast-changing environment, having focus and deep understand the problems of the people we serve allows us to be innovative and accurate in working to support and solve issues iteratively.
  • Collaboration is at the heart of our culture and we embrace this both internally and externally. Addressing challenges that cut across the different stages and stakeholders of the research ecosystem is difficult. But, by working across our different portfolio teams and using their insights and skills, we collaborate effectively with many stakeholders to optimise solutions to deliver for many more members of our ecosystem. Digital Science’s Dimensions is an excellent example of this approach.

Supporting research funders was always a priority for Digital Science

Since its inception in 2010, Digital Science has had the ambition to serve and support research funders, providing them with tools, data sets and services to deliver on their mission. The simple guiding logic for this was that improving the decisions that connect the right funding with the right researchers and research projects is a key way to ensure that researchers can do more. Different aspects of Digital Science’s portfolio focus on:

  • breaking down the science policy objectives into funding programs and calls;
  • identifying the best-proposed research activities involving the research community;
  • allowing funders to analyse the funding decisions from other funders to make aligned or complementary funding decisions; and
  • supporting research funders in the analysis of the results achieved in these research projects using new data sets and innovative alternatives.

In 2013 ÜberResearch started to build the first comprehensive grants database. It allows funders to better understand the current funding activities of their peer institutions and provides a glimpse into the future since the funded projects show resource levels given to intended research activities in the coming years. This allows more insights into future developments, compared to publication databases which reflect only the research carried out years ago.

The launch of Dimensions in early 2018 further helped to democratise and transform scholarly search. The tool breaks down barriers to discovery and innovation by making more than 860 million academic citations freely available and delivering one-click access to over 9 million Open Access articles. Whereas previous tools and datasets have focused mostly on publications and citations, Dimensions takes a different approach: by integrating funded grants, publications and citations, Altmetric data, clinical trials and patents, a complete picture of the research landscape emerges.

More than 200 funder clients are using already the Dimensions database with more than 4 million grants covering more than $1.4 trillion in historic and future funding to support their own funding decisions and portfolio analysis efforts.

Exciting opportunities ahead

Bringing CC Technology’s excellent software together with Digital Science’s existing range of products, tools and services will create new and exciting opportunities to solve problems in more innovative ways. We look forward to joining the dots and making better tools for funders.

“We can see a great cultural fit between CCT and the Digital Science family and we look forward to working with other members of the family to enhance the CC Grant Tracker product and the service we provide to funder organisations.” – Dave Allan, Founder CC Technology (CCT)

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