This document is intended to provide a clear outline of the scope of the work proposed for the pro² Network+, including the roles of the people involved. The terms, mutually agreed upon by the pro² Steering Group and Management Team, detail the commitments required from each member in order to achieve the shared goals of the network.
2. Language/style guide
ToC: The pro² Theory of Change document.
ToR: The pro² Terms of Reference document.
Member: Anyone formally associated with the pro² Network+, see Section 8 below…..
pro²: A set of activities related to easing the transition from prototyping to production for electronic devices. To be written with lower case p.
pro² Network+: The EPSRC funded project to bring together pro² stakeholders and to facilitate research and technology transfer relating to pro². Also referred to as ‘The Network’ and sometimes ‘pro²’.
The pro² network has been created to improve the prototype to production process for digital technologies. Network members recognise that creating a prototype of a conventional digital device is currently a relatively accessible process. When a person or organisation decides to scale up their device with a view to evaluating it more extensively or converting it into a product available to others, the barriers begin to stack up. pro² has been created to remove those barriers, enabling a future where moving beyond a prototype to produce usable, reliable and cost-effective digital devices is easier for everyone.
pro² aims to bring together industry, academia and individual device makers in order to find solutions to the challenges of moving beyond prototyping and into device production. The network will provide physical and virtual places to collaborate (such as events and online forums), in addition to funding research and innovative projects producing exemplars of tools, materials, techniques, processes and platforms that could be the solutions needed. With the five years of initial funding provided by EPSRC, the pro² team hopes to identify promising ways to enable digital device production, and secure further funding to begin implementing those solutions. The plan is mapped out in more detail in our Theory of Change document, which can be found on the website.
Whilst the funding for this work is underpinned by the U.K.’s engineering and physical sciences funding agency, pro² takes inspiration from, and will produce relevant solutions for, the global community. ‘Digital device’ in the pro² context means ‘a physical piece of equipment that operates using electronic circuitry. This would invariably be digital electronics and would likely include a microprocessor or microcontroller. Examples could include both conventional electronics such as PC accessories and wearables, and unconventional electronics such as flexible displays and printed sensors.
The pro² network is funded by UKRI-EPSRC for five years from Jan 2023 to Dec 2027. The pro² Theory of Change outlines what the network aims to achieve in that time, and what the next steps are in terms of the scale of the work and the funding required.
Following a stakeholder analysis carried out by the steering group in March 2023, the following potential stakeholder groups have been identified:
Technology and Solution Providers
Government Bodies and Policy Influencers
– Companies supplying components, services and tools (small, medium and large)
– Prototyping tool developers
– Physical and digital designers and makers
-Professionals from both non-electronics and electronics backgrounds
– Innovation policy-makers
The above types of stakeholders are not mutually exclusive (e.g. a researcher could also be a digital designer, an ideator or an entrepreneur). The Network aims to ensure that all the above stakeholder groups are suitably represented in the advisory board and across the membership of the network.
8. Roles and Responsibilities
The Steering Group
The steering group is made up of the Principal Investigator (Mike Fraser), the Principal Industry Lead (Steve Hodges) and four Co-Investigators (Boriana Koleva, Anne Roudaut, Jason Alexander and Joe Finney). The overarching function of the steering group is to provide strategic direction on pro² operations and make key decisions about network activities. The functions of the aforementioned roles are as follows:
Principal Investigator: The grant from EPSRC is held in this person’s name and managed principally by the institution this person works in. They act as chair for the steering group and take overall responsibility for the network achieving its objectives and maintaining the standards set by EPSRC.
Principal Industry Lead: This person represents the industry perspective for the purpose of network activities and strategic direction. They will provide industry-based insights ensuring that the network meets ‘real-world’ needs.
Co-Investigator: A person who assists the principal investigator and industry lead in the management and leadership of the network. They bring additional areas of expertise and experience which enhance the network’s ability to meet its key objectives.
The steering group meets once every two weeks. Each member commits to attending the meeting themselves and contributing to the agenda, discussions and decision-making process. In addition, each member commits to providing advice, feedback and input for decision-making between meetings where necessary, equal to 3.75 hours per week for each co-investigator and the principal industry lead, and 11.25 hours per week for the principal investigator.
This document acknowledges that steering group members balance the work of pro² with several other responsibilities and so the time and attention they are able to commit to pro² will fluctuate, however they will endeavour to manage their time in such a way that the commitment required from them to make the network a success is made wherever possible.
The Management Team
The management team are responsible for carrying out the day-to-day activities of the network. The team is made up of the pro² Network Manager (Sarah Hughes), the pro² Network Administrator (Maura Lydon) and the pro² Research Designer (Matt Sutton). The functions of the aforementioned roles are as follows:
pro² Network Manager: This person takes overall responsibility for the everyday operations of the network including planning and enacting the network strategy and activities, ensuring funder and legal standards are met, managing network finances alongside the primary finance contact, monitoring network impact, implementing an EDI framework and managing the pro² administrator post. They report to the steering group, with more regular contact with the principal investigator.
pro² Network Administrator: This person takes responsibility for managing the administrative functions of the network including events planning and coordination, membership management, communications, organization of network documents and processes and keeping the network manager up to date on key activities.
pro² Research Designer: This person is responsible for creating the network branding, images used, website and templates for key documents. In addition, they will work with pro² funding recipients (awardees) to create innovative and accessible ways for a diverse audience to understand what awardees have achieved with the funding received.
Each member of the management team works full-time on pro² and meets regularly throughout the week to progress key activities.
The Advisory Board
The pro² network must have an advisory board as part of EPSRC funding requirements. The grant conditions related to the advisory board are as follows:
‘This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference and membership of this group (at least 50% independent membership and an independent chair) should be agreed with EPSRC. The EPSRC project officer will also be expected to attend and participate in advisory board and other appropriate meetings for the duration of the grant. It is expected the first advisory board meeting will be held within four months of the start date of the project and there will two meetings a year with contact outside of the meeting when appropriate.’
In line with the above conditions, advisory board members will provide advice on pro² strategy and activities. There should be a minimum of six members, most (at least 50%) of whom shall contribute as an ‘independent’ member of the board (independent in this case meaning not employed by or affiliated with any of the organisations represented by the pro² network team). Board members should be representative of the range of stakeholders affected by the work of pro² and, in line with the pro² EDI framework, represent a broad range of identities and life experiences. Expectations for what the board will and will not do are detailed below.
The advisory board will:
– Provide feedback and advice on the strategic direction and activities of the pro² Network.
– Attend a twice-yearly online board meeting organized by the pro² management team.
– Promote pro² network funding calls and events to relevant professional contacts.
– Help to facilitate connections for pro² with contacts that could advance the network objectives.
– Be listed on the pro² website for transparency purposes.
The advisory board will not:
– Make decisions about pro² activities or funding distribution, including funding calls.
– Act as representatives for pro² for media engagement or otherwise.
– Be obliged to expend time, energy or resource on pro² outside of the twice-yearly meeting outlined above.
Stakeholders who have formally registered to join the pro² Network+, and thereby opted-in to receive occasional communications about events and activities organized by or related to pro². We encourage all members to engage with and take advantage of these wherever appropriate, in a positive, inclusive and respectful way. We encourage registered members to allow their basic contact details to be shared on a password-protected page on the pro² website. There is no charge for becoming a registered member.
People who attend pro² events or otherwise engage with the activities of the pro² Network+. We encourage all participants to become registered members and thereby gain more visibility within the network and of network activities.
9. Decision-Making, Conflict Resolution and Conflict of Interest
The steering group are responsible for making strategic decisions related to pro² activities. Where there is a disagreement about how to proceed, a vote will be carried out in which a simple majority decides the course of action. Where votes are tied, the principal investigator has the deciding vote as chair of the steering group.
In addition to strategic decisions, the steering group are also responsible for deciding who will receive funding as part of the pro² funding calls. For the first pro² network funding call in 2023, steering group members are not permitted to apply for project funding themselves. If for future funding calls steering group members want to apply for project funding, an alternative decision-making mechanism will be arranged.
If a member of the pro² network team experiences an issue related to other members of the team or how the network is governed, they must first approach the network manager who will begin a process of conflict resolution appropriate to the situation. If the network manager is the source of the issue then the principal investigator should be approached for a resolution.
There may be situations where a person or organisation is well-suited to be both an advisory board member and a project partner for sub-award funding. Where this is the case, their project partner status will be flagged to the advisory board and steering group.
10. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Framework
Bringing together individuals from different backgrounds and with different personal circumstances brings a wider range of experience, leading to improved decision-making, innovation and problem solving. For this reason the pro² network has created a framework designed to ensure that EDI is incorporated into all aspects of its work, full details can be found in the EDI Framework document on the pro² website.
11. Media Engagement
Engagement with the media regarding pro² can be done by any member of the steering group or the network manager, provided the approached person has notified the rest of the group of:
– which media outlet has requested comment,
– the nature of the request,
– the proposed response.
12. Monitoring and Evaluation
The degree to which pro² meets its aims and objectives will be monitored via a monitoring and evaluation strategy, the full details of which can be found on the pro² website. Compliance with this terms of reference document will be monitored and updated by the network manager.
The views of pro² members and advisory board representatives do not necessarily represent the views of their host institutions or of the pro² network as a whole. pro² is not responsible for any actions undertaken by its members, damaging or otherwise.
An up to date source of information on advisory board and steering group membership can be found on the pro² website.
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