It is now almost 2 weeks ago that NESTA hosted the first of its three Crucible weekends (30 June – 2 July), but needing at least a week to recover this seems like a good time to reflect on the weekend.
Crucible 07 took 30 early-career researchers down to Royal Holloway in Surrey for their first event. Much of this weekend centred around the awardees getting to know each other – and there was a lot to get to know. I felt really priviledged to be part of this group of talented researchers from academia and industry. The rest of the weekend was focused on science policy and the Media, including a move to London on the monday for a set of sessions hosted by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
One of the main motivations for running Crucible is to form an interdisciplinary network of researchers and help stimulate innovative collaborations that would not have occured without the diverse network. I have always been fairly skeptical as to how easy it would be to do this – or at least how easy it will be to measure and explicitly show we have done this. But the feedback we have received so far from participants is indicating we are having an effect on the attitutde of those taking part. So far 70% of those who have replied have felt that theie experiences will make them more likely to collaborate with someone from a different discipline. Others have indicated that they will already be chasing up ideas and potential collaborations with others they have met at the Crucible weekend.
So the important question for NESTA now is, how can we make sure we can convert the good intetnions of those ‘end of the evening pub-conversations held at Crucible into real collaborations. What can NESTA do to provide that extra activation energy to make things happen?