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Today the Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo) handed out its budget of €1M for Unusual Collaborations applications for 2024. The decision on funding was left to a lottery, which resulted in six out of eleven expressions of intent receiving funding. CUCo has chosen for a lottery because:

  • Trust is a key element in all collaborations; teams that apply have the full trust of CUCo that they will come up with projects that will explore unknown terrains in manners that are considered most suited by the team and that will showcase what the added value is of unusual collaborations;
  • The funding budget is limited and selection will have to be done; it will no longer be possible to fund all eligible teams. Comparison in the assessment across the variety of existing UCo projects (i.e. those that have been ongoing for one or two years already), and the Spark teams is not fair;
  • A lottery does not require fully worked out research proposals; submissions can be limited to brief expressions of intent. CUCo recognises that the nature of interdisciplinary research is emergent and that it therefore makes no sense to ask for fully detailed proposals before the start of the project;
  • Lottery based on brief expressions of intent saves time for all involved: applicants, reviewers, and the CUCo team. Time that CUCo rather sees spent on the fantastic projects it funds;
  • Lottery avoids bias in the selection and as such is a more inclusive funding method: all projects stand equal chance, regardless of conscious or unconscious bias with regard to disciplines or background of applicants;
  • Lottery as selection method has been studied, with positive response, but sees limited implementation. CUCo is meant for experimenting with and changing academic and funding structures, which makes it one of the few spaces where this can be implemented. CUCo chooses to be unusual, also in its selection method. CUCo congratulates the teams that were granted and looks forward to seeing their project evolve – more information on the projects that were funded will be available soon. The five teams whose tickets were not drawn in the lottery will receive an equal share of the remaining budget of €64,560 so that they can finalise activities or continue in a lower pace until new funding opportunities arise.