November 7, 2017

initiative

Support to SENACYT on supporting think tank in Panama

Project brief

On Think Tanks supported the design and delivery of a programme developed by the Panamanian Science and Technology Council (SENACYT) to support local think tanks. The programme, itself supported by the Inter American Development Bank, will offer up to 15 think tanks(5 per year for 3 years)  funding (up to USD90,000) to strengthen their governance, research agendas and/or communications capacities.

Support consisted in:

  • Presentations to the SENACYT team
  • Participation in a series of private and public meetings to inform the programme design
  • Developing a background document
  • Participating in the evaluation of candidates

Project dates

From 04/2017 to 09/2017 (although mentoring and support is ongoing)

The OTT Consulting Team

Funder and funding

Funding was provided to SENACYT through a loan from the Inter American Bank and the contract was signed with UNDP Panamá, who act as implementers.

The value of the contract was of USD3,600 plus travel and expenses.

This project is managed by Enrique Mendizabal directly. It does not contribute to OTT Consulting’s overhead.

Lessons learned

Key lessons learned from the project include:

  • There is a role of science and technology councils in developing countries to invest in social sciences and think tanks specifically.
  • Supporting capacity development, however, is not something that most research councils are used to. They are better prepared to fund research and technological development. There is a learning processes that is involved -which includes developing procedures for calls for proposals and contracts that reflect the nature of the support.
  • Think tanks themselves need to better understand themselves -including their strengthens and weaknesses- before applying for support. A programme like this one (and future iterations of the programme) should consider a longer inception period to reach out to think tanks and facilitate a self-assessment process before requesting proposals.
  • It is hard to support one aspect the organisation without supporting others. The strongest proposals considered how one aspect (e.g. improved communications) could support the others (e.g. research agendas and governance). This holistic approach is more desirable.
  • Support to individual think tanks should be accompanied by support to the community of think tanks (particularly those who are not chosen to receive the funds).