How did a convergent approach benefit the development of the health start kid/t?
“Most of the benefits resulted from having a large and expanding network of scientists, societal stakeholders and support staff who shared the same mission. A TUdelft advisor informed me that Lego was celebrating their 90th birthday by launching a call in which 5 consortia would get up to 27M for playful development of children. Together, we recognized the potential and reached out to two of the academic leads of Healthy Start, Vincent Jaddoe and Maaike Kleinsmann. Like us, they were immediately excited by the possibility to work on this complex societal issue, which would involve state-of-the art research and making societal impact. Therefore, we decided to form a consortium of TUDelft, Erasmus and Erasmus MC scientists to cover the scientific base of the project. Over time, the consortium grew with more researchers from different universities, who we invited, or approached us to work on our common mission. We also started working alongside another convergence programme, resilient delta, and through previous collaborations between researchers and societal stakeholders, we also got many local partners involved such as Red Cross Kenya, Amref Health Africa, Academic Hospital Surinam, Avegen/Togther for her from India. We ended up with a team from various disciplines and sectors, who possessed a wealth of practical and specialistic knowledge, allowing us to properly understand the societal issue and come up with an adequate solution. Unfortunately, we were not funded through the Lego call, but as a consortium we were so passionate about our mission and solution that we are now applying to other foundations and for other grants.”
Looking back, what did you learn from this convergent experience?
“The energy of working together was awesome push and driver of work. But researchers do need to time to build trust and understand what the other is working on. While the deadline of Lego call was a good pressure cooker (otherwise it would not have come about so quick), good teamwork always requires time, patience and mutual respect. ”
About Marije Wassenaar
Marije Wassenaar is a business developer (sr.) at Erasmus University. She is the linking pin between researchers, government, public & private partners to help develop research projects. Within the convergence alliance, she works for the programmes Healthy Start and Resilient Delta.