The curious start of an academic collaboration
Two days ago a group of academic from Bournemouth University (BU) submitted a bid for a research grant to the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) to help prevent the drowning of toddlers in Bangladesh. The proposed research is a collaboration with the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), and an other UK university, the University of the West of England (UWE) and a research organisation called CRPIB (Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh). Nothing particularly out of the ordinary there. BU academics submit collaborative bid for research grants all the time, with colleagues at other universities, with large charities (like the RNLI), and with research institutes across the globe. What I find intriguing is the round-about way this particular collaboration came about within BU.
The NIHR called for research proposals in reply to its Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme. The RNLI approached CRIPB, an expert in accident prevention from UWE and BU experts in health economics and human-centred design to discuss putting in an intention to bid. The RNLI has a history of working with both CRIPB in Bangladesh on drowning prevention and with BU in various design project (including improved ball bearings for launching lifeboats). The team decided that it needed a sociologist to help study the social and cultural barriers to the introduction of interventions to prevent drowning in very young toddlers (12-14 months). My name was mentioned by our UWE colleague whom I know from her work in Nepal. For example, she and I had spoken at the same trauma conference in Nepal and the lead researcher on her most recent project is one of my former students.
Thus, I was introduced to my BU colleagues in different departments (and faculties) by an outsider from a university miles away. I think it is also interesting that after twelve years at BU I am introduced to fellow researchers at the RNLI, especially since I only need to step out of my house and walk less than five minutes to see the RNLI headquarters in Poole.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health)