LABORATORY MANAGEMENT

The purpose with the HR&S “Functioning Advanced Scientific Equipment” (FAST) Support programme is to support scientific Institutions with the selection, transportation, installation, calibration, operation, maintenance, servicing, use and decommissioning of advanced scientific equipment.  Each program builds on the Real-time Outcome Planning and Evaluation tool (ROPE) which measures whether the support provided by the enabled the partners to be successful.

The strategy is unique and has proven successful. HR&S is coaching through the whole process.

The service is offered in the form of support packages:
A. Equipment procurement and delivery.
B. Equipment use & maintenance.
C. Construction of laboratories.
D. Operational & Financial plan development.
E. Business idea, business plan, and business venture.

HR&S FAST compiles and addresses the necessary conditions required to bring about a given impact, including; truth, trust, state-of-the-art knowledge, sustainable economy, institutional capacity, transparency, accountability, cross-cultural understanding, evaluation planning, and testing the strength of evidence for social impact.

Context

Africa faces some of the toughest challenges worldwide, some of which include poor disease management strategies, poor infrastructural development, food insecurity, poor hygiene and sanitation, lack of potable water, and climate change hazards (Kirigia and Barry, 2018). It is commonly agreed that scientific research is one of the cornerstones of the development of any nation, but Africa contributes with less than 1% of global research output (Chu. et. al., 2014).  Already in 2003 Kofi Atta Annan, when serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations, stated  that as a result of uneven global distribution of the resources to build and maintain scientific capacity, a large portion of new science is created by researchers from industrialized countries, and much of that science neglects the problems that afflict most of the world’s population (Annan, 2003). Ngongalah et. al., (2018) claim that the barriers to conducting research in Africa are related to that the conditions under which research is done in Africa are severely flawed and do not encourage engagement in research, or continuity of research activity.  Pulford et. al. (2020) also state that in many Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, research management and support (RMS) capacity is poorly developed, contributing towards the low research production from SSA universities and research institutions relative to their counterparts elsewhere.

Ngongalah et. al., (2018) performed a cross-sectional survey aimed to identify the key challenges affecting research practice and output in Africa; and to highlight priority areas for improvement. The study was administered through an online questionnaire and included participants from six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Participants included research professionals, research students, research groups, and academics. A total of 424 participants responded to this survey. The ability to conduct and produce high-quality research was seen to be influenced by multiple factors, most of which were related to the research environment in African countries. Barriers to conducting research in Africa included a shortage of training facilities, a loss of interest or motivation to continue research, and only little collaboration between researchers in Africa.  Pulford et. al. (2020) added to the findings of Ngongalah et. al., (2018) and performed twenty-eight research management and support (RMS) capacity assessments in 25 universities/research institutions from across 15 SSA countries between 2014 and 2018 following a standardised methodology consisting of semi-structured interviews. The survey was conducted with research and research support staff at the respective institution as well as document reviews and observation of onsite facilities. The results indicated 13 distinct capacity gap categories;
1. Physical Infrastructure. Unreliable power supply; insufficient laboratory-, office-, study-, meeting or physical storage-space.
2. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Infrastructure. Insufficient ICT hardware; nil/limited access to specialist software; limited internet access or bandwidth capacity.
3. Operating Equipment. Absence or critical shortage of essential laboratory-, field- and office equipment; vehicle shortage.
4. Laboratory Services and Support. Poorly maintained laboratory equipment; limited funding to support laboratory maintenance; limited/nil laboratory quality control systems or accreditation; insufficient biosecurity/laboratory safety protocols and resources; nil/sub-optimal revenue generation from the provision of laboratory services.
5. Research Funding. Limited/nil availability of national and/or institutional research funding; limited funding to support post-graduate research required for the attainment of the award.
6. Workforce. Excessive workloads for research and research support staff; prolonged staffing vacancies due to hiring freezes and/or absence of suitably qualified candidates; aging workforce; under-qualified and/or unexperienced workforce; insufficient laboratory technicians and/or research support staff.
7. Remuneration. Uncompetitive and/or insufficient salary relative to living costs; inequitable salary ‘top-up’ system applied to externally funded research grants (e.g. academics cost in, but support staff not).
8. Professional Development. Limited/nil access to training/professional development activities for research and research support staff (technicians and support staff having lowest levels of access); limited/nil institutional structures/services to support professional development; limited/nil staff mentorship schemes; limited/nil staff appraisal and performance mechanisms.
9. Career Progression. Limited promotion opportunities (especially for technicians and research support staff); job-insecurity; poor staff retention (primarily support staff); limited opportunities for junior academics to enter faculty positions (exacerbated by aging workforce remaining in the post). 10. Institutional Support Services. Inefficient/inadequate financial management-, procurement-, data management-, human resource support services; limited access to research literature/e-resources; limited/nil functionality of institutional review boards.
11. Research Support and Project Management. Limited/nil pre- and post-award support services, quality assurance, and monitoring; limited research cost recovery policies/expertise; limited/nil institutional research strategy.
12. Internal Communication and Collaboration. Limited internal (inter-departmental) communication and collaboration mechanisms; limited access to and/or awareness of institutional polices and/or available support services.
13. External Communication and Networking. Limited/nil institutional communications strategy; limited/nil institutional funds and/or staff incentives to support knowledge translation activities; limited/nil research output repository; limited support or oversight of institutional website (content and maintenance).

A  general framework for action plans for regions or countries with weak physical infrastructures based on gap analysis and needs assessment had been proposed early on  (Öman and Lidholm,2002; Öman et al., 2006). A general practical strategy had been developed to be long term, and its implementation to require support from, and the involvement of, a variety of stakeholders. The action plan was based on maintaining existing equipment networks, service centres and research centres, and forming new ones in addition. Activities which were proposed to be performed by these institutions included: i) managing supplies of spare parts and repairing equipment, ii) providing technical expertise, iii) managing information databases, iv) arranging meetings and training courses addressing equipment repair and use, and v) encouraging the development of policies and guidelines at national and institutional levels to mitigate constraints. The FAST (Functioning Advanced Scientific Equipment) programme is an ambitious and detailed practical strategy developed by HR&S addressing; i) the management of advanced scientific equipment as well as ii) laboratories with advanced scientific equipment. The strategy is holistic and addresses all the related aspects; selection, procurement, delivery, installation, calibration, operation, maintenance, servicing, accreditation, use and decommissioning of advanced scientific equipment. HR&S offers coaching and training on the FAST programme.

References

Annan, K. (2003) Science, 229, 1485.

Chu KM, Jayaraman S, Kyamanywa P, Ntakiyiruta G. (2014) Building Research Capacity in Africa: Equity and Global Health Collaborations. PLOS Med. 11:e1001612. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001612.

Kirigia JM, Barry SP. (2018) Health challenges in Africa and the way forward. Int Arch Med. 1:27. doi:10.1186/1755-7682-1-27.

Ngongalah, L., Emerson, W., Rawlings, N. N. & Musisi, J. M. (2018) Research challenges in Africa – an exploratory study on the experiences and opinions of African researchers. Preprint at bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/446328.

Öman, C. and Lidholm J. (Eds) (2002) International Workshop on Purchasing, Servicing and Maintenance of Scientific Equipment in Western Africa, 5-9 November, Buea, Cameroon International Foundation for Science (IFS), Stockholm, Sweden. https://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/Oman-2002-Purchasing.pdf

Öman, C.B., Gamaniel, K.S., Addy, M.E. (2006) Properly functioning scientific equipment in developing countries. Anal Chem, 78, 5273-6 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ac069434o

Pulford, J., Crossman, S., Begg, S., Amegee Quach, J., Abomo, P., El Hajj T., and Bates, I. (2020) Strengthening research management and support services in Sub-Saharan African universities and research institutions. Research Note. AAS Open Research. https://aasopenresearch.org/articles/3-31

A. Equipment procurement and delivery

1. Identifying the research topic of a scientific institution/niche of a laboratory
The Target partner identifies research topics with the potential to be strengthened if provided equipment. These shall be scientific disciplines that are core to the mission and objectives of the scientific Institution as well as key research areas suitable for strengthening or building research capacity. • The departments to be involved with FAST are specified at the scientific Institution, and a list compiled. • A list of publications related to the selected scientific projects proposed is compiled, including papers published in international regional or national peer-reviewed journals.

2. Proposed items to be procured
The Institution compiles a proposal of related items to be procured; including instruments, accessories, consumables, training events, services, maintenance, physical infrastructure improvements, and the expected costs.
Resource persons linked to the proposed equipment are identified. It can be expected that the proper management of possible new equipment may require the attention of a few truly dedicated persons from the scientific organisation, who have the energy and capacity to properly manage these new pieces of equipment. Such resource persons must have the authority by the scientific organisation management to take on the necessary responsibilities. The key persons are the researchers, the technologists (in Nigeria), and the technicians.

3. Stakeholder pre-procurement meeting
Joint meetings are arranged between i) the Institution management, researchers, technologists, technicians, ii) the potential Suppliers and iii) FAST independent equipment expert advisers. In the meeting, the proposed list of items is reviewed taking into consideration the research projects it shall be used for. At these meetings, the researchers present the research projects for which the equipment is required. Thereafter the experts recommend revisions in the equipment, accessories, and consumables procurement proposal if any. The experts may even propose appropriate manufacturers and suppliers.

4. Inspection of the laboratory facilities
The laboratory facilities intended for the new equipment are inspected by the potential suppliers and the FAST independent equipment expert advisers, and succinct recommendations on physical infrastructure, work safety, and environmental protection improvements are compiled.
The inspections also include existing instruments at the laboratory facility that are either broken down or are simply not functioning, and which would benefit from being repaired.

5. Transportation, delivery, and installation preparations
The modalities for transportation, travel insurance, custom, delivery procedures, installation, installation training, service, and maintenance are discussed with the supplier and agreed on between the Institution and the Supplier. Options are presented in the operational plan guidelines. The discussion is facilitated by the Program partner.

6. O&F plans
The Institutions develops firm Operational and Financial plans (O&F plans) according to the FAST O&F plan guidelines, including the advice provided by the experts.
The plans will among other things, guide the buyer on how much can be spent of the actual procurement and how much must be set aside for related products and services, taking into account the generation of funds to cover the running costs.

7. Laboratory readyness inspection
The laboratories are inspected by the supplier and the order is not placed until the laboratories have been properly prepared to receive the equipment.

8. Placing order
The order is place by the buyer and paid directly by the buyer to the manufacturer. A percentage of the equipment cost is paid when placing the order and the rest after delivery and checking that all items have been received according to the agreement. The price can be negotiated by the PP to have large volume discount,

9. Transportation
The items are transported and delivered within two months, unless otherwise agreed between the buyer and the vendor when placing the order. The supplier takes full responsibility for the transportation, and charges 12,5 % of the procurement cost for the service.

10. Delivery
The Institution has arranged firm procedures for how to receive the items. The items will be delivered by the transportation firm. The Institution discusses the time for delivery with the transportation firm. The packing list provided by both the manufacturer and the supplier is compared with the items received. The items are documented with a camera. Any abnormality is reported to the Program partner and to the supplier within 24 hours. If items is missing or damaged and it is not reported within 24 hours, then the responsibility to replace the item will be with the Institution.

11. Storage
The items are stored according to the specifications. Nothing is un-packed. This is again the responsibility of the Institution, and if not addressed properly, the Institution will have to replace mistreated items.

12. Installation and quality assurance
As soon as all items have been received and all facilities have been prepared the Supplier is called upon for installation. It is the Institution’s responsibility to ensure that the facilities are appropriately prepared and all items required for quality installation is available. The supplier will arrive to the Institution within one week, unless otherwise agreed with the buyer.

13. Installation training
Installation training shall be performed by the supplier according to the agreement, and no later than two weeks after installation, unless otherwise agreed with the buyer.

B. EQUIPMENT USE & MAINTENANCE

1. Operational and Financial plans
The previously developed Operational and Financial plans are annually addressed through discussions and in meetings. Constraints are indentified and solved and each item is followed-up in actual practice.

2. Trainings
A package of trainings is agreed on. The expected participants are compiled with names, responsibilities and previous experiences. All participants will have to do a test prior to developing the package to ensure that the right level of training is selected, not too simple and not too qualified.
• Trainings are provided at two levels, Basic and Advanced. The training program is developed to meet the needs of the equipment procured and address i) maintenance, ii) service, iii) general operation, iv) advanced applications and v) quality assurance.
• The trainings can be arranged on-site and at national training centers or abroad and be provided by the manufacturers, the suppliers, equipment experts and trained trainers.
• Training participants receive certificates.
A pool of technicians with the appropriate training to do service and maintenance is developed as well as a pool of trained technician trainers. Exchange of knowledge and service among technicians and technologists and other partners (assuming the presence of adequate internet facilities) is facilitated.

3. Service by supplier
The service contract can be negotiated through the PP to get large volume discount. Warranty is considered. Thereafter the service is managed according to the service contract between the buyer and supplier. Agreements with suppliers are followed-up on by the PP.

4. Technician networking & Laboratory coordination
• Visits are coordinated for technicians and researchers to stay at other laboratories to learn, through internship.
• Mutual exchange programs are facilitated e.g. to sending sample between members and receiving the results.
• Linkages with private sector laboratories are facilitated.
• HR&S manages an HR&S network of technicians in SSA.

5. Target partner meetings
Representatives from all Target partners; the Institutional management, the researchers, the technologists / technicians and the suppliers meet face-to-face bi-annually. All operational issues are discussed and all challenges addressed. Such meetings are necessary to address issues related to logistics; such as transportation, custom clearance, delivery, infrastructure preparations, installations, trainings, operations, service and maintenance. Other topics of the meetings can be:
• Arrange regular on-site meetings to screen existing equipment, assist researchers and technicians in getting the latest developments and techniques, offer maintenance and repair and discuss other equipment related issue.
• Invite suppliers to FAST meetings for interaction between FAST stakeholders. Create/strengthen peer networks of clients and users.
• Develop a charter with clear responsibilities between the universities and the suppliers on who does what in order to have the equipment operational.
• Inform suppliers on the potential marketing benefits if they manage to meet the actual needs of the Institutions. Encourage suppliers to open local offices in FAST countries.

6. Equipment performance assessment
Equipment performance monitoring and evaluation is performed real time. The Institution is in charge of collecting and assessing data: Is it used as much as expected? Is service & maintenance perfect? Is the equipment idle, if so why?  Are consumables, glass ware, spare parts, manuals, servicing tools available?

7. Accreditation
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard-setting body.   https://www.iso.org  (IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission)
ISO/IEC 17025:  “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories” is the main ISO standard used by testing and calibration laboratories. In most countries, ISO 17025 is the standard for which most labs must hold accreditation in order to be deemed technically competent. In many cases, suppliers and regulatory authorities will not accept test or calibration results from a lab that is not accredited. ISO/IEC 17025 enables laboratories to demonstrate that they operate competently and generate valid results, thereby promoting confidence in their work both nationally and around the world. It also helps facilitate cooperation between laboratories and other bodies by generating wider acceptance of results between countries. Test reports and certificates can be accepted from one country to another without the need for further testing, which, in turn, improves international trade. ISO/IEC 17025 is useful for any organisation that performs testing, sampling, or calibration and wants reliable results. This includes all types of laboratories, whether they be owned and operated by the government, industry, or, in fact, any other organization. The standard is also useful to universities, research centres, governments, regulators, inspection bodies, product certification organizations, and other conformity assessment bodies with the need to do testing, sampling, or calibration. A new version of the standard was published in 2017.
Implementation of ISO 17025.
1. Establishing effective communication channels with stakeholders.  2. Obtain support from management and staff. Full backing of stakeholders and management: the decision to commit, allocate resources, and start implementation planning.  3. Determine the context of the Organisation. What will be the extent of the daily operations as it relates to ISO 17025? What testing methods will be within the scope of accreditation? Who will be the customer? What will be applicable to the ISO 17025 accreditation?  4. Define Scope, Management, Commitment, and Responsibilities. Define the Quality Policy, Quality Objectives and establish a Quality manual. Identify what area of the daily activities are applicable to ISO 17025. Express the level of managerial commitment required and designate the person responsible for follow-up. Identify and document the commitment that will come from management. Clearly define and document the associated roles and responsibilities across the organization. 5. Address Risks & Opportunities. Risks and opportunities are areas that could potentially directly harm the organisation, its reputation, customer engagement, or staff members. Once risks are identified, then identify mitigation steps needed and how to manage risks that cannot be mitigated. Evaluate also current activities. The areas that can be improved become opportunities.  6. Define Processes and Procedures. Develop instructions for how activities and methods are to be performed. Designate and assign responsibilities for the establishment of each procedure. 7. Implement Processes, Procedures, and Controls. Outline the plan for implementation and associate a timeline. Identify and share any new expectations for personnel.  How will the organization ensure processes and procedures are being executed as written within the standard operating procedures? Develop a plan to monitor implementation and determine the effectiveness of procedures. Records should be generated and reviewed periodically.  8. Perform Training and Awareness programmes. All staff should be educated about ISO 17025 and on what is expected of them. Ensure information exchange and motivation. Form committees that will help spread coming expectations. 9. Engage with an Accreditation Authority. An accreditation body provides assessment.  10. Operate the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), a software that is defined by the quality objectives and daily procedures with workflow and data tracking support. 11. Conduct Internal audits. 12. Perform Management reviews addressing resources, risks and opportunities, nonconformance and all aspects of the management system functionality. 13. Demonstrate the competence of the laboratory in providing quality testing or calibration services. In preparation, perform a final review of day-to-day operations, ensure records are effectively documented. 14. communicate with staff, and help them understand that the audit is simply a part of the process. All elements of a quality management system are likely to be evaluated during this time.  Open lines of communication, scheduling, and rallying stakeholders will be adequate preparation for a successful audit.

c. Construction of laboratories

Expert recommendations are offered in order to have laboratories prepared to receive the instruments.

Expert recommendations are offered regarding:
1. The construction of buildings including electricity, gas, and water installations.
2. The design of laboratories including the efficient flow of samples through the laboratory system.
3.Laboratory Internet Management System (LIMS) and general laboratory internet solutions.
4. Appropriate electricity solutions, including generators and solar panels.

D. Operational and Financial plans (O&F plans)

The FAST Operational and Financial plans (O&F plans) are necessary and complementary procedures. The O&F plans offer the Target Partner Institution a strategy on how to i) prepare prior to procuring new pieces of equipment and ii) after procurement procedures.

  • The Target Partner Institutions are responsible for the development and implementation of the Operational and Financial plans (O&F plan).
  • The plans should be annually reviewed, lessons learned compiled and informed decisions taken. 
  • The Target partner is eligible for training and coaching on the O&F plans by HR&S.

The Operational plan Guidelines were developed to support scientific institutions with the procurement and use of advanced scientific equipment. The intention is that an operation plan shall be developed prior to procuring a new piece of advanced equipment. Thus each piece of equipment shall benefit from its own operational plan. The plan shall be filled in jointly by the institutional management, the researchers, and the technologists/technicians together. A separate document is generated for each piece of equipment. Certain activities compiled in the operational plan, obviously come with cost implications. Moreover, the FAST Concept is based on the principle of a sustainable economy. Thus the operational costs for starting up a new piece of equipment necessarily have to be covered by investment capital, but after about two years the piece of equipment is expected to cover its own running costs as well as, whenever possible, generate a profit which can strengthen the laboratory or the research in general. A FAST Financial plan Guideline has thus been developed to be complementary to the FAST Operational plan Guideline. The purpose of the financial plan is to prepare a strategy for the Institution to cover all the expenses that come with the running, maintenance, and servicing of new or repaired pieces of equipment. The financial plan compiles estimated costs as well as sources of funding. The cost recovery plan shows how costs related to procured or repaired equipment can be covered, and proposes options of funding sources.

Evaluation planning

Each program builds on the Real-time Outcome Planning and Evaluation tool (ROPE)  which measures whether the support provided by the Programme management partners enabled the Target partners to be successful. The focus of the approach is the Target Partners. It is the ambitions of the Target partners which is the core of all programmes. Those ambitions constitute the vision. The mission becomes the activities that need to be done to address the dreams of the Target partners. Outcome evaluation planning is performed real-time  to evaluate if the support actually enables the stakeholders to manage advanced equipment in actual practice. ROPE offers:

  1. A strategy for designing programmes based on the needs and the knowledge of the Target partners.
  2. Practical strategies to overcome the challenges identified by the Target partners.
  3. Practical strategies to reach sustainable economy.
  4. Practical strategies to reach institutional capacity.

Ambitions: Compile information on what each technologist / technician would like to see in line with her/his assignment at the laboratory.
Outcome challenges: Develop the Outcome challenges. This is a compilation of the reasons for why the technologists / technicians are not doing what they want to do in terms of managing the equipment.
Progress markers: Develop the Progress markers. The Progress markers reflect directly the Outcome challenges. The progress markers address outcomes rather than outputs. Outputs are activities we have control over and are compiled in an activity plan, outcomes are the desired results of outputs and something we do not have control over. The progress markers must be formulated in a way that they are measurable. They are separated into single units which can be easily measured.
Scoring:  Score the Progress markers. The operation builds on a sequence of monitoring and evaluation events, for with dates, participants and results are recorded.
a. The monitoring starts at the same time as the design of the program. The first task is to identify the baseline of the program; the presentation of the situation prior to the start of the program. Progress marker scorings together with the related comments are compiled in a monitoring data sheet.
b. Scoring method 5 Excellent 90 – 100% 4 Good 70 – 90% 3 Adequate 30 – 70 % 2 Poor 0 – 30 % 1 Insufficient 0 – 10 % c. Scoring based on percentage supersedes scoring based on words. Thus, when a progress marker can be assessed with a percentage, then this is what the scoring shall be based on.
Lessons learned and infromed decisions: Compile lessons learned and revise the  programme accordingly. Lessons learnt from the monitoring and evaluation exercises are fed into the  programme revisions.

Operational plan

The purpose with the FAST Operational Plan is to offer a practical strategy for the management of advanced scientific equipment as well as laboratories with advanced scientific equipment. The strategy is holistic and addresses the related key aspects; selection, transportation, installation, calibration, operation, maintenance, servicing, use and decommissioning of advanced scientific equipment.

 

FAST targets Scientific Institutions and the concept builds on that an Operation plan is developed prior to procuring a new piece of advanced equipment. Each piece of equipment shall benefit from its own operational plan. The Operational plan is to be developed jointly by; the institutional management, the researchers and the technicians.  The Vice Chancellor/Director, one representative from the researchers and one from the technicians, prior to procurement, shall sign the final version of version the Operational plan, prior to that the order of a new piece of equipment is placed.

It is the responsibility of the Scientific Institution to ensure that all aspects of the operational plan implemented. The Operational plan addresses:

  1. Stakeholder committees.
  2. Selection of research topics.
  3. Selection of equipment to be repaired or improved.
  4. Selection of equipment to be procured.
  5. Selection of supplier – Agreed Supplier.
  6. Timely release of funds.
  7. Laboratory facilities.
    • Equipment protection.
    • Supplies.
    • Occupational health & safety and natural environment protection.
  8. Insurance
  9. Ensuring that the laboratories are prepared.
  10. Transportation & customs.
  11. On-site delivery.
  12. Storage.
  13. Installation.
  14. Quality assurance.
  15. Equipment use.
  16. Repair and maintenance.
  17. Decommissioning procedures.
  18. Technician forum.
  19. Training events.
  20. Technician career promotion.
  21. Equipment monitoring.
  22. Outcome planning & evaluation.
  23. Revenue generation.

1. Stakeholder committees

1.1 Equipment Management Committee

The Scientific Institution managing a FAST programme that shall establish an Equipment Management Committee (EMC). The EMC is composed of representatives from all FAST stakeholder groups including; Institution management, researchers, and technicians. The EMC shall meet quarterly or more often. These meetings shall be face-to-face meetings and are crucial as they enable an opportunity for the key stakeholders to discuss and sort out any challenges related to the implementation of FAST at the institution.  The Committee shall develop a democratic and efficient working spirit and have the successful output of the project in mind. It shall be gender-balanced and the names of the committee members shall be compiled as part of the operational plan. The committee shall address the below topics:

  • Minimising bureaucratic procedures and simplify communication channels between scientific institution management and laboratory staff.
  • Highlight the FAST work and its importance within the scientific institution.
  • Encourage multi-disciplinary research teams to use the facilities.
  • Share experiences and learn from other projects within the FAST network.
  • Promote the FAST Concept within other scientific institution authorities, networks, and groups.
  • Secure complementary grants to FAST.
  • Encourage the private sector and governmental entities to use lab services in order to maximize revenue.

1.2 Equipment Management & Agreed Suppliers Committee

A second committee with representatives from both the Equipment Management Committee and from the FAST Agreed Supplier (EM&AS) shall be established. The EM&AS shall meet bi-annually or more often. These meetings shall be face-to-face meetings and are crucial as they enable an opportunity for the key stakeholders to discuss and sort out any challenges related to the implementation of FAST in relation to the Supplier and the manufacturer. The committee shall address the below topics:

  • Transportation, custom clearance, and delivery
  • Infrastructure preparations
  • Service and maintenance.
  • Any other issues related to logistics.

2. Selection of research topics

The Scientific Institution is requested to present the scientific disciplines that are core to the mission and objectives of the institution, as well as the key research areas suitable for strengthening or building the Institution´s research capacity. It shall be noted that the research projects presented, require motivated leadership, key scientists, and key technicians. It is further suggested that the projects shall be selected considering also a balanced gender and age distribution. A compilation of publications related to the scientific disciplines shall also be presented.

3. Selection of equipment to be repaired or improved

FAST urges benefitting from the resources that are already present at the institution. Thus, while planning for procurement of new pieces of equipment, equipment repair shall be considered as a less expensive option, or to be complementary to procuring new pieces of equipment. Another alternative may be to complement existing equipment with new accessories. The cost for the repair and for new accessories would be expected to be covered by the funds set aside for the procurement of new pieces of equipment.

4. Selection of pieces of equipment to be procured

New pieces of equipment to be procured shall be selected according to a well-defined strategy. The strategy ensures that the selection is done in close collaboration between the Institution management, the researchers, and the technicians. 

  1. Identifying research projects
    The Scientific Institution identifies the research topics with the potential to be strengthened if provided new pieces of advanced equipment. The research projects shall be within the scientific disciplines that are core to the mission and objectives of the Scientific Institution, as well as key research areas that are suitable for strengthening or building research capacity. Also:
    1. The departments to be involved shall be identified.
    2. A list of publications related to the selected scientific projects proposed shall be compiled, including papers published in international regional and in national peer-reviewed journals.
  2. Compiling pieces of equipment proposed to be procured
    The Scientific Institution shall compile the pieces of advanced scientific equipment that the Institution proposes to be procured. The compilation shall also include the related items and services such as; accessories, consumables, trainings, equipment service contracts, maintenance tools and services, and physical infrastructure requirements. The proposal shall be based on updated product information material.
    Moreover, the resource persons linked to the proposed new pieces of equipment shall be identified. It can be expected that proper management of new pieces of advanced equipment shall require the full attention of a number of dedicated persons, both researchers, and technicians. These persons shall be staff of the Scientific Institution and shall be provided with the required tools and education. Also, these resource persons must have the authority by the Scientific Institution management to take on the necessary responsibilities.
    The expected cost for the whole package shall be calculated.
  3. Meeting with equipment experts
    The Scientific Institution management, the researchers, and the technicians jointly meet with equipment experts in order to review the research projects and the pieces of equipment, tools, and services proposed for procurement.  The researchers present the proposed research projects at these meetings. Also, the laboratories are inspected.
    Thereafter the experts recommend relevant adjustments of the proposal if relevant including and modifications of the physical infrastructure.
  4. Revision and fine-tuning of equipment procurement compilation
    The final compilation of the pieces of equipment, tools, and services to be procured is developed and the physical infrastructure requirements are agreed on.

5. Agreed Supplier

The suppliers of the equipment are thoroughly selected and must be reliable and professional. The suppliers must have an excellent track-record of offering quality and modern pieces of equipment, as well as performing quality delivery, installation and after sales-services.
The FAST Programme has established processes and criteria for the selection of qualified suppliers. Certain suppliers have been appointed FAST Agreed Suppliers. The FAST agreed suppliers are often local representatives of the main international manufacturers, and are trained and supported by the international manufacturers they represent.
The FAST programme shall collaborate with FAST Agreed suppliers only. Even though the procurement prices they offer tend to be higher, a combination of a possible discount related to the FAST service offered, as well as, the quality of the supplier´s products and services, makes the FAST Agreed suppliers the preferred choice.

6. Timely release of funds

It is crucial that funds are released timely to cover any costs related to the running of the FAST laboratory. Such costs include consumables and maintenance but also unexpected repair and other un-foreseen costs.
Therefore, each FAST laboratory must have a separate bank account dedicated to the laboratory. The account must always have enough funds available to cover the running of the laboratory. Agreed laboratory key-stakeholders shall have the authority to withdraw funds from the bank account to cover the running costs. The security procedures shall be according to international normal bank account security regulations.
The persons with authority to withdraw funds must have knowledge about basic bookkeeping and shall develop bi-annual financial reports according to quality international bookkeeping standards. The bank account statement shall be accessible also to the financial management of the Scientific institution, at any time. Moreover, the bookkeeping shall annually be audited by an external professional auditor.

7. Laboratory facilities

 The laboratory facilities where the new pieces of equipment shall be installed must be constructed so as to provide the right conditions for the new pieces of equipment. Certain installations must be in place to protect the equipment against damaging external conditions (please see next chapter). Other installations must be in place to provide the necessary supplies (second next chapter). Yet other installations are required to protect human health and the natural environment (third next chapter). External laboratory experts must visit the laboratories, where the new equipment shall be placed, in order to inspect whether the appropriate physical infrastructure is in place. The experts shall give advice on adjustments where required. The external laboratory experts have to approve the facilities before orders for new pieces of equipment can be placed.

7.1 Equipment protection

Certain installation must be in place to protect the equipment against unstable electricity provision, negative effects from lightening, dust, temperature, humidity, flooding, vibrations, gas tube explosion and rodents.
Electricity: The electricity provision can be unstable which can damage the equipment. UPS units and search protectors can therefore be required to protect the equipment against spikes.  Depending on the situation, also chargeable batteries and additional sources of energy supply may be required.  
Lightning: The equipment shall be protected against lightning. Such protection can be arranged by connecting to the earth at the time of installation. The connection to earth is to be kept at all times. Moreover, the laboratory can be protected by installing lightning collectors on the roof and provide each piece of sensitive equipment with a CVC stabiliser.
Dust: It is sometimes required to protect the equipment against dust. Dust protection can be achieved by installing double sliding windows, covering the pieces of equipment when not in use, avoiding swirling fans, and keeping doors and windows closed.
Temperature: Many pieces of equipment cannot perform if the room temperature exceeds 30 °C. Room temperature may need to be reduced by the installation of AC.
Humidity: The humidity rise at certain regions and at certain times of the year, to a level that damage the equipment. The humidity can be kept down using AC.
Flooding: The risk of flooding must be considered, and adequate protection is taken in regions that experience such risks.
Vibration: Marble benches can sometimes be required.
Explosion protection for gas tubes: Special housing for protection of the environment in case of gas tube explosion must be provided.
Rodents: Protect against rats and mice.

7.2 Supplies

Certain installations must be put in place to ensure the provision of the required supplies such as electricity, water, purified water, gases, computers, and the internet. Moreover, the university must develop and maintain the procedures related to the timely use of the supplies, as well as appointing the responsible persons.
Electricity: Laboratories can be expected to be connected to the national electricity supply network. Still, frequent failures in the distribution of electricity can often be expected, why support systems are required for equipment depending on electricity. Common support systems are back-up electricity generators. These must be of sufficient magnitude and have access to fuel. The back-up generators may also fail from time to time, why the second level of back-up electricity supply is appropriate for equipment sensitive to electricity failures.
Water: Water must be available in enough volumes and at appropriate quality at all laboratories where new equipment is to be installed. Suppliers shall help identify the needs of water purification systems.
Gas: Certain pieces of equipment require a gas supply of different types and quality. The Scientific Institution management shall ensure access to gas supplies through-out the lifetime of the equipment and thus the installation of the required gas lines. Agreements are preferable entered between the Scientific Institutions and the gas suppliers, the equipment suppliers may help establish such contacts. Sometimes, it may be preferable to invest in gas generation plants.
Consumables and glassware: The Scientific Institutions are responsible for the provision of the required consumables and glassware.
Computers, internet & printers: The Scientific Institutions are responsible for providing the required computers, internet access, printers, and related items.
Spare-parts: Spare parts for two years should preferably be included in the estimated procurement cost of a new piece of equipment. Thereafter the Scientific Institutions are responsible for providing timely access to all necessary spare parts. The procedures developed shall take into consideration that manufacturers do not keep stock of spare-part longer than five years after the equipment has stopped being manufactured, as well as that there is a lag time of at least three weeks between ordering spare-parts and delivery. An internal stock of the frequently used items shall be considered.
Servicing tools: At least one set of servicing tools are usually delivered together with each piece of new equipment. This set shall be kept centrally so that each technician has access. The Scientific Institutions are in addition responsible for providing one personal set of servicing tools to each technician who is appointed to maintain a certain piece of equipment and, when appropriate, to each technician participating in a training course on repair, service, and maintenance.
Service, maintenance & user manuals: At least one set of original service, maintenance, and user manuals are usually delivered together with each piece of new equipment. Most modern manuals are presented as CDs and repair and user information can often be achieved through the internet. These manuals shall be kept centrally so that each technician has access. The Scientific Institutions are in addition responsible for providing one copy of the manual to each technician who is appointed to maintain a certain piece of equipment.

7.3 Occupational health & safety and natural environment protection

The FAST programme shall ensure that the work is carried out in way that it does not pose any risks to the staff health or safety and at the same time protects the natural environmentally. Risks with employee accidents shall be carefully addressed both on and off the work site as well as risk related to long term health hazards. Health hazards shall be identified at each workplace and employees adequately educated. Occupational health and safety, as well as protection of the natural environment, are the responsibilities of employers. The Institutional management may appoint laboratory supervisors to ensure safety at the laboratory.  The effectiveness of health and safety policies shall be monitored and assessed. In case of evidence of occupational ill health, a special investigation shall be carried out.

Occupational health & safety
Protective installation and supplies: Certain installations and supplies are required for the protection of health and safety, such as; hoods, gloves, coats, glasses, and gas masks.
Gas tubes: Gas tubes must be properly secured.
Fire incidents: Fire incidents shall be avoided, but if it happens protection procedures shall have been established and educated on, and the required tools available.
Medical examinations: Medical examinations shall be carried out as required by law, as well as ensuring the confidentiality of such examinations.

Natural environment
Procedures, installations and supplies that are required for the protection of the natural environment shall be identified for each laboratory.
Awareness: Ensure natural environmental protection awareness. This includes conservation and sustainable resourcing.
Waste management: Ensure proper waste management.
Property protection: Property damage shall be avoided, thus procedure to protect the property shall be in place.

8. Insurances

The Suppliers of the equipment are responsible for arranging full insurance during the transportation of each piece of the equipment to the laboratory. Then, the Scientific Institutions are responsible for arranging with on-site laboratory insurance of each piece of equipment. The laboratory insurance shall cover theft, fire, water damage, and other risks relevant to the context. The laboratory insurance shall start not later than the time of the arrival of the new piece of equipment, and shall be valid though out the life-time of the equipment.

9. Ensuring that the laboratory facilities are prepared

External laboratory experts have to approve the facilities before placing orders for new pieces of equipment. This requirement enables proper storage upon arrival, proper and timely un-packing, installation, and use. Thus, avoiding delays that may damage the equipment, the standards, and the consumables. The procedures also help avoiding the person responsible for the installation is called upon before it is possible to install, and thus the related visiting costs. Only, when the laboratory has been prepared and the installation is possible shall the laboratory call on the person in charge of the installation. The supplier shall provide a check-list in order to support the laboratory management with the assessment of whether an installation can be done. Then the supplier shall visit the laboratory to ensure that everything is in place, thus that the laboratory is prepared and all items are available.

10. Transportation & Customs

 The Suppliers and the Scientific Institutions shall collaborate to arrange for transportation of the equipment from the manufacturer/Supplier to the laboratory. The transportation shall be arranged so that no delays occur. In case of delays anyway, the storage environment and time must be handled so that nothing is destroyed.

10.1 Transportation by Supplier

The supplier is well suited to manage the transportation from the manufacturer all the way to the laboratory. The cost will increase from about 10 % of the procurement cost to about 25 %. But, such a procedure ensures for example that the costs for storage while waiting for customs clearance is avoided, as well as items being out-dated if stored under unfavorable conditions.

10.2 Custom procedures

Customs procedures can be handled by the Scientific Institution, by a clearing agency, or by the Supplier. In case the Institution does not have full control over custom routines, it is advised that the supplier or a clearing agency, with good references, is appointed for the customs formalities. The Scientific Institution shall overview forms and procedures required by the national regulations. In order to benefit from duty – free import regulations, three documents are often required for each piece of equipment; a letter of donation (prepared by the donor if any), a copy of the invoice (prepared by the Supplier), and a letter of aerial transportation (also prepared by the Supplier). Clearance documents are required for hazardous compounds and items, such as EC-detectors (prepared by the Supplier).

11. On-site delivery

Thorough procedures must be put in place for how to receive the items when reaching the Scientific institution. It can be expected that the Supplier will not be waiting for the items to arrive why the driver of the transportation vehicle must be met by representatives of the Scientific Institution, who have been authorized to receive the items. This person or team is responsible for checking that everything ordered has arrived. The person signs a receipt and this receipt is carefully saved together with the packing list from the manufacturer as well as the packing list from the Supplier. The receivers shall arrange for that each item is stored according to the requirements. If the delivery is made outside office hours, special procedures must be in place to handle this situation.  The equipment shall remain unpacked until the qualified installation technicians arrive. The Institution is responsible for having the laboratory prepared before the delivery of items so that the items can be taken directly from the transportation vehicle to the laboratory.

12. Storage

The items are always stored according to specifications.

13. Installation

The technicians from the Supplier shall arrive as soon as possible after the delivery of the pieces of equipment and make the installations, calibrations, and related quality controls. Technicians and researchers appointed for the equipment shall actively attend during the installation. Skilled electricians are also appointed to support during the installation.

 In case the installation is not possible. In case the persons in charge of installation arrive when the laboratories have not been finalized, or all items required for installation are not available or non-functional, then the installation personnel has to come back later. The date for the second visit will depend on the availability of the person installing and will be paid for by the Scientific Institution.

14. Quality assurance

 Successful installations, calibrations, and quality assurances are signed off by authorized laboratory staff.
Any deficiency from a successful and professional installation is discussed and actions to be taken agreed on, including the person in charge and due dates. The agreement is signed by the authorized laboratory staff and the Supplier and all stakeholders concerned are informed, including the manufacturer.

15. Equipment use

Preparations must be made to ensure that new pieces of equipment are being used within one month after installation. Thereafter the equipment shall be frequently used and procedures for optimum use shall be developed. The equipment shall be shared among users when appropriate. The number of use hours per day shall be measured and be compiled as indicators for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
The equipment shall only be used by authorized personnel, and only according to Standard Operational Practices (SOP) and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). Each piece of advanced equipment may require that a minimum of 2-3 authorized personnel are appointed.  Each instrument shall have a log bock attached, where the application, project, and name of the user is noted. The logbook shall also inform about and keep track of safety, health, and natural environmental issues.

16. Repair and maintenance

Internal

Two technicians or more shall be appointed for each piece of advanced equipment. These technicians shall perform maintenance according to a schedule, and report on their activities to the university management every three months. Technicians must be literate in English or French in order to be able to read and understand the service and operations manuals. Diagnostics support through the internet shall be considered as a complementary option and can be made available for all equipment that uses a computer. Such a service requires reliable access to the internet. 

External

When an external technician is called upon for repair, the university technicians shall be invited to be informed about the repair work, in order to learn. Certain items, such as those related to the electricity, may have to be replaced by the supplier themselves.
The warranty period for a new piece of advanced equipment is often one year. Service contracts or extended warranty periods must be arranged prior to placing the order for a new piece of equipment.  In case the supplier is delaying the installation, the warranty period is to be adjusted accordingly.

 17. Decommissioning procedures

Obsolete pieces of equipment, which are too old to be repaired, shall be decommissioned. Correct procedures for decommissioning shall be in place so that each piece of obsolete equipment is immediately removed from the laboratory facility and handled according to the procedures.

18. Technician forum

Networks of trained technicians shall be developed in each country. The networks shall have a coordinating committee and a website.

19. Training events

The FAST programme includes pieces of training. The pieces of training can be divided into six categories.

  1. Pre-installation training.
  2. Installation training.
  3. Advanced equipment-specific training.
  4. Application training.
  5. Quality assurance & certification training.
  6. Train trainers.

Pre-installation training: The Scientific Institution shall provide pre-installation training well in advance prior to the arrival of a new piece of equipment. The Supplier can often offer training material. The training aims to meet the basic needs of knowledge so that the technicians will be able to benefit from the Supplier´s installation training when it is given.
Installation training: The Supplier shall provide installation training at the time of the installation of a new piece of equipment.  The training shall be hands-on and shall address both use and maintenance. The training shall include an explanation of each hardware and software component, combined with information on how to operate the instrument. The maintenance training shall involve how to do preventative maintenance to avoid unnecessary failures of the equipment. The training shall last two, four, or six days, depending on the level of sophistication of the equipment.
Advanced equipment-specific training: The Scientific Institution is thereafter responsible for arranging for continuous training addressing all aspects related to the equipment. This training will be advanced and can be arranged on-site or abroad. The advanced equipment training shall start not later than three months after the installation of the new piece of equipment.
Application training: The Scientific Institution is also responsible for to continuously arranging application training in parallel with the equipment training. The application training is also advanced and addresses analytical methods and applications. The application training shall start no later than six months after the installation and shall be offered to technicians and researcher together.
Quality assurance & certification training: The Scientific Institution is addition responsible for to continuously arranging quality assurance and certification training. The quality assurance and certification training is also advanced and includes Laboratory Quality Assurance systems (such as ISO 17025), Good Manufacture Practice (GMP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).  One aim of the training can be to reach the ISO qualification level. The quality assurance and certification training shall start no later than six months after the installation and shall be offered to technicians and researcher together.
Train trainers: The Scientific Institution is responsible for managing train trainers programmes. Train trainers programmes aims at creating a pool of local trainers. It shall be run in parallel with other training activities and be offered to technicians and researcher together. Institutions with service and maintenance units, shall arrange so that staff from these units participate in the train trainers programmes.
The training shall be hands-on. Training guidelines shall be compiled, preferably in e-format and be uploaded on an e-platform. This shall be made accessible to all trainers. The e-platform shall also contain publications of analytical methods (author, title, journal, pages, year published). Moreover, internet access shall be ensured so that technicians can benefit from consultations through on-line advisory websites and from direct communication with technicians elsewhere.

Training needs survey

Each technician shall do a test prior to being assigned for a training event. This test will identify the training need of that person, and thus assure that the correct level of training is offered. The training shall not be too simple nor too advanced.  A questionnaire to serve this purpose shall be developed by the Technician Forum with support from the Suppliers.

Other capacity strengthening activities

The Scientific Institution shall identify and implement other capacity strengthening activities. Activities that were not presented here, but that are required for ensuring long-term functioning and frequent use of new pieces of equipment.

20. Technician career promotion

A career development and financial incentives scheme linked to laboratory performances shall be established for technicians and for researchers. The career paths shall address increased authority with time as well as salary scales. Appropriate and continuous training must be ensured, as well as safety and health programmes, together with natural environment protection programmes. Moreover, the Scientific Institution is responsible for arranging good working conditions for the laboratory technicians, so that they can perform to their highest level. Technicians shall attend relevant equipment fairs and exhibitions according to their choice, as well as international technician meetings. Researchers shall attend the relevant international scientific conferences and seminars.
Moreover, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of technicians in research publications. The technicians shall be mentioned as co-authors or be thanked in the Acknowledgement section, depending on the level of their contribution.
The Scientific Institution shall ensure that an adequate number of qualified and motivated technicians, as well as researchers, are employed. It is also important to acknowledge that it is crucial that technicians and researchers, who the FAST programme has invested in, choose to remain working with the scientific institution.

21. Equipment monitoring

Procedures for monitoring and evaluation the equipment use and performance shall be developed and implemented. Lessons learned shall be fed into procedural revisions. The Scientific Institution shall develop a database for compiling monitoring parameters.
Minimum two resource persons per Scientific Institution shall be appointed for the collection of monitoring data. The persons shall preferably be among those who are already involved with the equipment maintenance and use on a regular basis.

22. Outcome planning & evaluation

FAST is linked to a Real-time outcome planning and evaluation tool (ROPE), which manages outcome planning and evaluation. Please find more information about ROPE elsewhere.

23. Revenue generation

 The FAST Programme includes ensuring revenue generation from the pieces of equipment procured through FAST. The financial planning is presented elsewhere, in the FAST Financial Plan document. The Operational Plan includes arranging knowledge sharing and visibility events to attract customers, offering consultancy services and providing on-demand assistance and advice to other Scientific Institutions and their laboratory staff.

Financial plan

The FAST Concept is based on the principle of a Sustainable economy.
The purpose of the FAST Financial plan is to facilitate the process of developing a strategy of Sustainable economy at a laboratory. The Financial plan facilitates the estimation of the costs related to the running, maintenance and servicing of advanced scientific equipment, as well as, compiles potential sources of income.  The FAST Financial plan has been developed to be complementary to the FAST Operational plan. The FAST Operational plan compiles the activities related to the equipment (please find a presentation of the FAST Operational plan elsewhere). The FAST Financial plan has been developed to serve the financial staff within Scientific Institutions.  The Financial staff shall collaborate with researchers and technicians to understand the needs of a laboratory.  The final version of the FAST Financial plan shall be signed by the Vice-Chancellor/Director of the Scientific Institution, the Director of the financial department, one representative of the researchers and one representative of the technicians.

Method

The procurement of a new piece of advanced equipment obviously requires financial investment. The Sustainable economy idea of FAST is that the costs related to the running of the piece of equipment during the two first years shall also be covered by the initial financial investment. After two years, the running costs shall be covered by the income generated through selling services based on that same piece of equipment. If the piece of equipment can even generate a profit, then it can possibly re-pay the initial investment capital, and there-after contribute to the investment capital of other pieces of equipment. The FAST programme is most useful in a Central laboratory context, where the costs and income can be shared among a larger pool of equipment. A Central laboratory can be viewed on as a social enterprise. Thus, the financial planning and management of the FAST programme borrows concepts from the private sector; the business idea, business plan, financial reporting, bookkeeping and auditing. The FAST Central laboratories shall have their own financial staff, bank accountant and external auditors. Furthermore, a Central laboratory has the potential to become a Centre of excellence for the region or the country.
The financial estimations shall be done prior to placing an order for a new piece of equipment. Two years of running costs must be set aside from the funds available for procuring new pieces of equipment.

Templates to facilitate financial estimations

The FAST Financial plan offers templates for the estimation of costs and income. These templates compiles areas of costs that can be expected as well as areas of potential income. The proposed areas within the FAST Financial plan are obviously stated in general. Other areas than those mentioned in the template may also be important as each specific case will be different in actual practice. The FAST Financial plan template addresses:

  1. Procurement and running costs per piece of equipment.                
  2. Cost recovery per piece of equipment.
  3. The business idea.

The two first sections of the FAST Financial plan address each piece of equipment.  The third section of the document proposes the development of a business plan for the laboratory as a whole. It shall be noted that , as a rough estimate, it has been found from previous implementation of the FAST programme that the life-time running costs for an advanced piece of equipment is three times the procurement costs, or more.  Thus, this is the size of funding that has to be ensured or planned for, prior to procuring a new piece of equipment. The currency can be any currency; local currency, USD, EURO or SEK. Some estimation are preferable made as a percentage of the equipment procurement cost.

1. Procurement & running costs

The procurement and running costs  proposed are compiled in Table 1. The costs are estimated per piece of equipment. By benefitting from previous experiences from implementing FAST programmes, financial estimations has been compiled for some of the cost areas. Such estimations are obviously very approximate estimates and may chnage significantly when taking the actual context into account.

Certain costs are calcultaed per new installation of a piece of equipment, whereas other costs are calculated per year.
Only the first year includes procurement, transportation, custom, and installation. Thus, the budget for the first year is different from the budget for the second year and onwards. 

2. Cost recovery

The Cost recovery opportunities proposed are compiled in Table 2.
The income is estimated per piece of equipment and per year.

3. Business idea

The FAST Financial plan business idea concerns a Central laboratory. Each section shall be thoroughly reflected on prior to establishing a Central laboratory. The method is part of the HR&S general programme and more information can be found elsewhere within HR&S support and resources.

 The FAST Financial plan business idea contains the below sections:

  • The team.
  • The expected outcome.
  • Products and services.
    • Revenue
    • Start-up capital and future costs.
    • Income statement budget.
    • Cash flow budget.
    • Financial sustainability.
  • Implementation plan.
  • Partner expectations.
  • Core values.

Table 1.
The FAST procurement and running costs. The costs are estimated per piece of equipment. Percentages refers to the equipment procurement cost.

Cost item

Amount,

USD /
% of procurement cost

Comments
Procurement  
   
Transportation / shipping  
 15 %, if arranged by the supplier.Transportation from manufacturer to university.
Custom clearing  
 VAT 5 %.
Government fees 7,5%.
Possibly additional custom clearance agency costs.
Insurance during transportation  
 Up to 2,5% of the value of the transported goods.Level depends significantly on country.
Physical infrastructure  
Construction of new laboratories.   
Improvement of available laboratory.  
Installation of protection devices; dust, temperature, humidity, lightening, flooding, vibration.  
Maintenance of physical infrastructure.  
Supplies  
National electricity costs.  
Installation of electricity generator, fuel and maintenance.   
Installation off further electricity back-up system and its maintenance.  
Water.  
Computers and printers.  
Internet.  
Other.  
Installation  
Planned visits by person in charge of installation.  
Additional visits due to that the lab is not ready or all items are not available.  
ConsumablesMaybe 10 % per year 
Application related: reagents, gases, enzymes, standards, etc.  
Instrument related: columns, vials, syringes etc.  
Laboratory related: glass ware etc.  
Repair and maintenance Maybe 10 % per year. 
Repair and user manual.  
Spare-parts.  
Servicing tools  
Extended warranty.  
Service contracts.  
Visits by repair person.  
Insurance during useMaybe 1% per yearAgainst theft, fire, water leakage, injury etc
Per piece of equipment or per laboratory.  
Decommissioning  
   
Staff trainingMaybe 5 % per year 
Supplier equipment training at time of installation.Maybe 600 USD / day and equipmentMaybe 6 days
(installation, use, repair)
Supplier equipment training abroad, per person.Maybe 5,000 USD 
Supplier equipment training at the university, per four persons.Maybe 3,500 USD 
Local equipment training.  
Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) &
Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) training.
  
Other capacity strengthening activities.  
Staff and Administration  
Payment of staff.  
Staff incentives.  
Accounting.  
Equipment monitoring and evaluation. Equipment management and use.
Staff outcome evaluation planning. Staff performances.
Other administration.  
TOTAL  
   

 

Table 2. The FAST Cost recovery opportunities proposed. The costs are estimated per piece of equipment. Percentages refers to the Equipment procurement cost.

Activity / Source

Amount
Currency per year

Comment

Bench fees.

 

 

 

 

From internal or external users.

Selling analytical services.

 

 

 

 

For research or commercial purposes.
Cost rates shall be adapted to the capacity of the buyer.

Selling training courses on equipment use and applications.

 

 

 

 

For research or commercial purposes.
Cost rates shall be adapted to the capacity of the buyer.

Selling products.

 

 

 

 

 

Selling other types of consultancies.

 

 

 

 

 

Fundraising.

 

.

 

 

For example research grants from donor agencies, private sector and government.

Contribution from university core funds.

 

 

 

 

Must be a line item in the the university annual budget.

Fund reallocation.

 

 

 

 

From for example project overlapping interests, such as capacity strengthening.

Saved costs as a result of reduced outsourcing.

 

 

 

 

In case the new equipment reduces or removes costs related to having analyses performed elsewhere.

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

 

E. Business model

The business model presents our plan for generating income to cover the costs for the programme to be implemented. It identifies the products and services that we will sell, the target market we have identified, and the expenses we anticipate. We are not just selling our products and our services, we are actually selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. We think through a set of overarching questions, our business model, and outline them before we dive in to the details of our business plan research. Each HR&S Programme benefit from their own Business Model.

Business Model Canvas

Planning is key, also when starting and growing a business. 
The Business Model Canvas is a common entrepreneurial tool that enables us to visualize, design, and reinvent our business model. It provides an overarching framework for developing a business strategy, a detailed business plan, and/or a prioritized action plan. The tools can help our startups develop a clear view of their value proposition, operations, customers, and finances. It can also help our small business owners to identify how the different business components relate to each other, which is powerful when deciding where to focus time and attention to make the business grow. The Business Model Canvas can also help entrepreneurs to address specific risks and acquire more information about, for example, competitors, and market niches.

The Business Model Canvas has nine different focus areas that make up building blocks in a visual representation of the business; Customer segments, Value propositions, Distribution channels, Customer relationships, Revenue model, Key Activities, Key Resources, Key Partnerships, and Cost Structure.

Pitch

A pitch is essentially a business plan that is presented verbally to potential investors, supporters, partners and customers of a business. A good pitch balances business and emotional needs, it has to hit a person on both emotional and business levels. Without this, the pitch is almost certain to fall flat. A good pitch is succinct. … A good pitch tells a story.

HR&S uses three levels of depth of our pitch: 5 seconds, 30 seconds and 5 minutes.
– The 5-second version is a concise, single sentence explanation of our idea – the log-line.
– In the 30-second version, we explain how we plan to achieve our idea by providing just enough interesting detail to help the audience get a clearer understanding of what we are proposing – the message map.
–  Once we are successful in scaling our idea down to 5 and 30 seconds, we can then broaden it to 5 minutes.

ROPE & SfC- Laboratory management

ROPE – Evaluation planning

Each programme builds on the Real-time Outcome Planning and Evaluation tool (ROPE)  which measures whether the support provided by the Programme partner enabled the Target partners to be successful.

The focus of the approach is the Target Partners. It is the ambitions of the Target partners which is the core of all programmes. Those ambitions constitute the vision. The mission becomes the activities that need to be done to address the dreams of the Target partners.

ROPE offers
1.Strategy for designing programmes based on the needs and the knowledge of the Target partners.
2.Strategy to overcome the challenges identified by the Target partners.
3.Sustainable economy plan.
4.Institutional capacity plan.

Target partners

  1. University internal management
  2. Researchers
  3. Technicians
  4. Agreed Suppliers

Strategic partners

  1. University external management
  2. International manufacturers; Agilent and others.

Evaluation planning
Each program builds on the Real-time Outcome Planning and Evaluation tool (ROPE)  which measures whether the support provided by the Program partner enabled the Target partners to be successful. The focus of the approach is the Target Partners. It is the ambitions of the Target partners which is the core of all programmes. Those ambitions constitute the vision. The mission becomes the activities that need to be done to address the dreams of the Target partners. The ROPE provides; i) a strategy for designing programs based on the needs and the knowledge of the Target partners, ii) means to overcome the challenges identified by the Target partners, iii) a sustainable economy, and iv) institutional capacity. Outcome evaluation planning is performed through-out the FAST programs to evaluate real-time that the support enables the stakeholders to manage sophisticated equipment in actual practice.
1. Ambitions
Compile information on what each technologist / technician would like to see in line with her/his assignment at the laboratory.
2. Outcome challenges
Develop the Outcome challenges. This is a compilation of the reasons for why the technologists / technicians are not doing what they want to do in terms of managing the equipment.
3. Progress markers
Develop the Progress markers. The Progress markers reflect directly the Outcome challenges. The progress markers address outcomes rather than outputs. Outputs are activities we have control over and are compiled in an activity plan, outcomes are the desired results of outputs and something we do not have control over. The progress markers must be formulated in a way that they are measurable. They are separated into single units which can be easily measured.
4. Scoring
Score the Progress markers. The operation builds on a sequence of monitoring and evaluation events, for with dates, participants and results are recorded. a. The monitoring starts at the same time as the design of the program. The first task is to identify the baseline of the program; the presentation of the situation prior to the start of the program. Progress marker scorings together with the related comments are compiled in a monitoring data sheet. b. Scoring method 5 Excellent 90 – 100% 4 Good 70 – 90% 3 Adequate 30 – 70 % 2 Poor 0 – 30 % 1 Insufficient 0 – 10 % c. Scoring based on percentage supersedes scoring based on words. Thus, when a progress marker can be assessed with a percentage, then this is what the scoring shall be based on.
5. Lessons learned
Compile lessons learned and revise the training program accordingly. Lessons learnt from the monitoring and evaluation exercises are fed into the training program revisions.

ROPE Parameters

Outcome evaluation planning is performed through-out the FAST programs to evaluate real-time that the support enables the stakeholders to manage sophisticated equipment in actual practice.

Ambitions: Compile information on what each technologist / technician would like to see in line with her/his assignment at the laboratory.
Outcome challenges: Develop the Outcome challenges. This is a compilation of the reasons for why the technologists / technicians are not doing what they want to do in terms of managing the equipment.
Progress markers:  Develop the Progress markers. The Progress markers reflect directly the Outcome challenges. The progress markers address outcomes rather than outputs. Outputs are activities we have control over and are compiled in an activity plan, outcomes are the desired results of outputs and something we do not have control over. The progress markers must be formulated in a way that they are measurable. They are separated into single units which can be easily measured.
Scoring: Score the Progress markers. The operation builds on a sequence of monitoring and evaluation events, for with dates, participants and results are recorded. a. The monitoring starts at the same time as the design of the program. The first task is to identify the baseline of the program; the presentation of the situation prior to the start of the program. Progress marker scorings together with the related comments are compiled in a monitoring data sheet. b. Scoring method 5 Excellent 90 – 100% 4 Good 70 – 90% 3 Adequate 30 – 70 % 2 Poor 0 – 30 % 1 Insufficient 0 – 10 % c. Scoring based on percentage supersedes scoring based on words. Thus, when a progress marker can be assessed with a percentage, then this is what the scoring shall be based on.
Lessons learned & informed decisions: Compile lessons learned and revise the training program accordingly. Lessons learnt from the monitoring and evaluation exercises are fed into the training program revisions.

O&F plans - Laboratory management

The FAST Operational and Financial plans (O&F plans) are necessary and complementary procedures. The O&F plans offers the Target partners Institution suggestions on how to prepare prior to procuring new equipment and on after procurement procedures. The Target partners Institutions are responsible for the development and implementation of the Operational and Financial plans (O&F plan) in their laboratories. The plans should be annually revisited and updated to reflect achievements and lessons learnt. The Target partner can also achieve stand-alone training and coaching on the O&F plans.

1. Training
Training on the Operational plan and Financial plans concept.

2. Coaching
Coaching on the development of the O&F plans in actual practices.

The Operational plan Guidelines has been developed to support scientific institutions with the procurement and use of advanced scientific equipment. The intention is that an operation plan shall be developed prior to procuring a new piece of advanced equipment. Thus each piece of equipment shall benefit from its own operational plan. The plan shall be filled in jointly by the institutional management, the researchers and the technologists technicians together. A separate document is generated for each piece of equipment. Certain activities compiled in the operational plan, obviously come with cost implications. Moreover, the FAST Concept is based on the principle of sustainable economy. Thus the operational costs for starting up a new piece of equipment necessarily have to be covered by an investment capital, but after about two years the equipment is expected to cover its own running costs as well as, whenever possible, generate a profit which can strengthen the laboratory or the research in general. A FAST Financial plan Guideline has thus been developed to be complementary to the FAST Operational plan Guideline document. The purpose with the financial plan is to prepare a strategy for the Institution to cover all the expenses that come with the running, maintenance and servicing of new or repaired piece of equipment. The financial plan compiles estimated costs as well as sources of funding. The cost recovery plan shows how costs related to procured or repaired equipment can be covered, and proposes options of funding sources.

Acknowledgement

The FAST Support programme Guidelines has been developed by Assoc. Prof. Cecilia ÖMAN.

She is grateful for the support provided by friends, colleagues and partners all over the world, especially Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, Dr. Sune Eriksson, Dr. Amah Klutsé, Prof. Charles Aworh and Prof. Ado Dan-Issa. The five scientific institutions in Nigeria Amadu Bello University, Bayero University, University of Ibadan, University of Port Harcourt, and NIPRID, and two in Madagascar, Antananarivo University and IMRA, who were part of the pilot study are especially appreciated for having stretching beyond expectations to make the project successful.  The FAST program builds on the output and outcome from the PRISM pilot project which was financially supported by the MacArthur Foundation in USA and managed by Cecilia ÖMAN when she was employed at the International Foundation for Science (IFS) in Sweden.

References

Öman, C. and Lidholm J. (Eds) (2002) International Workshop on Purchasing, Servicing and Maintenance of Scientific Equipment in Western Africa, 5-9 November, Buea, Cameroon International Foundation for Science (IFS), Stockholm, Sweden. https://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/Oman-2002-Purchasing.pdf

Öman, C. B., K. S. Gamaniel, et al. (2006) Properly functioning scientific equipment in developing countries. Anal Chem 78(15): 5273-6.

Related documents

FAST Operational plan Guidelines.

FAST Financial plan Guidelines.

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