By Carol Bewick, Director of Membership Engagement and Communications, AMRC

Published: 7 June 2023

When you think ‘festival’, what do you think of? Music stages, mud and camping? All your favourite authors gathered in one place? Heading to Cheltenham and losing all your money on the 2.15? Wearing your headphones as motorbikes speed past? Whatever kind of festival tickles your fancy, sure as eggs are eggs you’re looking to be inspired, entertained and get to the end happy but exhausted.

And we, at AMRC, are hosting our own! Yes, this summer it’s the Festival of Partnerships on a screen, in a network and at an event near you. From June to October, we are shining a light on partnering and collaboration.

Not quite Glastonbury I hear you say. Well, no, not quite – but it will be more informative. We know that collaboration and partnership have become buzzwords in recent times, but there are good reasons for that. Partnering in research charities can accelerate impact for those in desperate need of new treatments; bring more innovative ideas to the fore; bring more investment to a challenge; allow focus on different aspects of conditions; free up resource; and amplify voices. What’s not to like?

We hear so many great examples of how our members are partnering – with each other, with other charities, with industry, and the public sector. In all sorts of ways, from sharing funding to accelerate research, to sharing back-office functions, advocating together, and even merging if the time is right. These examples should be shared along with the challenges and opportunities faced along the way. But partnering well is difficult, and you have told us you want to learn more.

When Nicola Perrin joined us as CEO and started meeting as many of you as possible, partnering came up as part of every discussion she had. Little did she know that our (much loved and now happily relocated to Scotland and a new life) Events Lead Gill Daniell had been proposing we theme AMRC activities around an issue. A double whammy of reasons to hold a Festival of Partnerships if ever I heard one. But how will it work?

As evidence is our middle name, we reached out to hear directly from you what you most wanted to get from a Festival of Partnerships. And as luck would have it, your thoughts coincided with our own. You generously want to share what has worked well for you and see what others have been doing. You want a broader view of what partnering can look like as well as needing help identifying different types of funding partnerships and those to partner with. You want practical advice on how to overcome barriers to partnering. And, of course, you want opportunities to connect.

Well, as luck would have it that’s just what we have on offer. There is an exciting events programme over the coming months kicking off tomorrow (8th June). There are opportunities to meet each other face to face and virtually for those who find getting together in person a challenge. There are webinars and round table discussions. Our regular networks will be exploring issues around partnering relevant to their individual functions. You’ll spot a lot of social media under the #Partner4Research banner. We’ll be publishing blogs and sharing case studies so if you’ve got something you would really like to share reach out to Emily ([email protected]) or Ellen ([email protected]).

The team have drawn the line at my suggestion of introducing mud and welly wearing for our summer social but I guess we can’t have everything.

We’re really looking forward to seeing you over the next few months. Keep in touch and I’ll see you on the main stage (or maybe the lost children’s tent).