I met with Chris Harker and Al Hooton of Cayuse yesterday, and we had a very interesting discussion about their product and the state of ERA (electronic research administration, which refers to research institution’s management of grants and not simply the similarly-monikered NIH system) in general.
Chris described a very distinct role for Cayuse424, their grants application management product: in his opinion, it is the best product available for crafting and managing grant proposals being submitted to Grants.gov. The company’s philosophy is to do this one step in the grants lifecycle extremely well — to do one thing superbly, rather than 15 things poorly — and then look for opportunities to expand beyond that remit. This is a different approach compared to other systems that I know about. Others tend to reach to all steps of grants administration, in some shape or another, and that has merit too, to be sure.
Pleasingly, Cayuse was originally funded through an NIH/NCRR SBIR grant! Chris started the venture as a result of his own frustrations as a research faculty member, struggling to apply for grants. So he clearly understands the dilemmas and nuances associated with this business.
Our discussion revolved around the future of Grants.gov. Personally, I think that grant reporting is the next big opportunity for consolidation and streamlining — just as grant applications have been streamlined — and this would be a good fit for a forms-based product like Cayuse424. Still, we’ll need to have more consistency across reporting forms and requirements, as well as in the submission mechanism, before this can become a workable reality.