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Tinder for researchers

How machine learning helps optimize the grant application process

  • Zjef Mallaerts

To add intelligence to your business processes: that’s the mission of Flexso. In line with that mission, we developed a pioneering solution that combines SAP Intelligent Technology capabilities like machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to help researchers quickly find the right funding opportunities. 

More and more companies are embracing next-generation artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to automate repetitive tasks and, as such, improve productivity and effectiveness. One example of a such a task is the matching processes. By automatically and intelligently matching incoming payments with outstanding invoices or transactions on bank statements to those in the general ledger, for example, finance teams raise their efficiency. Matching candidates to job descriptions helps HR teams speed up the recruiting process.

Automating a lengthy application process

Flexso developed a Tinder-like application to automate a more challenging process: the matching of universities, research institutes and their researchers with funding opportunities

Research is an important yet very costly task of every university. To conduct research, scientists need money: to run studies, finance lab equipment, pay their assistants and even pay their own salaries. However, the traditional grant writing and grant proposal process is very time-consuming: universities capture all relevant funding programs and their calls and share this information with their researchers, who will then apply for funding. In spite of all the hard work, the success rate is very low: between 10% and 20% of submitted projects get funded. So, the chance that a submitted project finds funding is very small compared to the – manual – work that preceded it.

‘Research Matching Application'

This is why we developed our Research Funding Matching Application. Combining both the deep learning and text analysis capabilities of SAP Intelligent Technologies, we provide universities and researchers with a real-time research dashboard. The dashboard contains funding opportunities automatically retrieved from public and private funding organizations. These are immediately aligned with the specific skills, interests, research projects and project history of the university, research institute and individual researcher. This information can be enriched and blended with any master data coming from SAP S/4HANA or any other solution containing relevant information.

Time savings and higher success rate

The benefits are obvious:

  • Reduced time and money spent on screening grants and preparing the application – to win time for core research;
  • Improved quality of the application thanks to smart analytics (history, trends, continuous learning (won vs. lost));
  • Higher success rate thanks to artificial intelligence (compliance check, focus on the right grants/applications, predict chance of success etc.).

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