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Last updated: 25-Feb-16

Neil Sandford - Putting People Before Computers

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Neil Sandford has a technological background that ranges from speech recognition work in the early 1970s through to the latest interactive technologies of the internet. He has extensive experience of the public and private sectors, working alongside technical and managerial staff at all levels in the UK, Europe and the USA and managing seven-figure budgets.

Neil was managing director of The Soft Option, one of the UK's first multimedia software companies, from 1984 to 1991 and has subsequently consulted under the strap-line "Putting People Before Computers".
Link: Why "Putting People Before Computers"

Since 2006, his time has increasingly been spent supporting consortia bidding for EC funding. Conventional wisdom says that over-subscription to calls for proposals result in a probability of funding such as '1 in 5', '1 in 12' or even '1 in 20' depending on the topic. Neil begs to differ. A well-written proposal describing a supportable piece of work has a probability of around 1:2 or perhaps 1:3. The rest have no chance at all.

Neil helped major clients raise nearly €80m over the life of the Framework 6 and Framework 7 funding programmes. More than 70% of proposals were funded with an average 'score' of 13.3 out of 15 (over 88%). These include large-scale integrating projects, infrastructure projects and projects funded by the ICT policy-support programme and Marie Curie.

He calls himself the project midwife - his clients conceive the project idea, and his job is to deliver it, or at least the funding for it. The current EC funding initiative, Horizon 2020, provides new opportunities and new challenges for research teams looking to participate.

Link: Description of Horizon 2020

Neil also offers a range of services for bidding consortia, including proposal pre-evaluation and post-mortems. He ran a successful training course for potential evaluators for the network of FP7/ICT National Contact Points at the 2012 Proposers' Day in Warsaw, Poland.

Link: More about support for research


"You can chalk up another away win for Sandford-United " Nick Wainwright, HP Labs

"Thanks for the call - reassuring. I must say, you have been absolutely invaluable to my sanity through this!!!!" - a client just three days before the close of a call for proposals

"The assessment of risks in the proposal is exemplary and the European Commission could take this example as a model for future proposal templates" - anonymous evaluator's comments from a 2008 ESR

"So much of our proposal and the architecture of the project has in it so much good practice from programme management - all thanks to you." - Hildelies Balk, Koninklijke Biblioteek

"Worth the attendance fee alone" - comment on a feedback form from the UKISHELP/MANIST Joint FP6 Information Day

External link: Find out more about Neil, his network and the recommendations he has received at Linked In

More about European funding for research

External link: Introduction to the ICT theme in current European research

External link: Interactive ICT workprogamme

External link: European Research Interests; a LinkedIn group


I have a page dedicated to the designers of stupid systems. Not so much a blog as a place for a dire tribe.
Link: Use the government gateway - login, select the service you want and then . . . Login again. Except for the ECSL. Except today.

See also: