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Prepared by the SPN Research and Innovation Subcommittee of the Steering Committee

Document Lead: Dianne Dietrich, last updated May 13, 2020


The Research and Innovation Framework connects the components of research and innovation activities within SPN as proposed by the SPN Research and Innovation Subcommittee of the Steering Committee. The R&I components include:

Cumulatively, the components provide a process for moving from idea to an actionable project, whether that is grant-funded or not, that can be supported, in some way, by SPN or the SPN community members. This framework is intended to facilitate research and innovation activities and outcomes within SPN . The framework may serve as a guide for internal SPN efforts and for engagement with partners and collaborators.


SPN members are not required to come up with ideas to fund the organization. Grants-seeking is not a primary fund-raising venue for SPN. We do not expect SPN members to write and pursue grant opportunities to retain their membership in SPN.

SPN members, instead, can use this framework to develop ideas into projects, and, optionally, propose these projects to external funding agencies. At minimum, SPN involvement in these projects will ensure coordination across the membership, to minimize duplicative work and unnecessary competition for funding opportunities. The framework outlined in these documents sketches out a model for a continuum of involvement and support from SPN.


SPN offers several synchronous and asynchronous networking venues where members can discuss ideas for projects. This is outlined on the “Potential Modes for Incubation” table in SPN Incubation of Ideas (Appendix 1, SPN Incubation of Ideas). Through discussion, some ideas may gain traction and interest within the community as a collaborative, multi-partner project.

If those evaluating an idea have expressed interest in pursuing the idea further, they will be in touch with a Facilitator (mentioned in  the “Roles and Responsibilities” section of Appendix 1) from SPN. A Facilitator can help in a few ways, including:

  • Setting up a more formal time for those interested to discuss the idea further
  • Helping situate the idea on the “Research and Innovation Continuum”

Participants can review the idea against the categories of research and innovation activities outlined within the Research and Innovation Continuum (Appendix 2). The goal of this review is to answer the following questions. Where does the idea fall? What category of research and/or innovation activity makes the most sense? Is that where participants expected the work to be classified, or were they hoping for something more or less structured? SPN staff will provide guidance with this process, such as if teams wish to reshape their proposal to fit a different category. SPN staff will also help determine whether the proposal should be pursued as a grant-funded activity, or not. Some activities may benefit from guidance on how to do the work collaboratively as a group (without external funding), for instance.

If the group decides to pursue the project as a funded grant-opportunity, SPN staff and the group will also determine the level of SPN’s involvement. As outlined in the Fundraising and Project Framework (Appendix 3), SPN’s involvement may either be Lead, Affiliated, or Supportive. Depending on the level of involvement, SPN staff will manage and/or oversee some part of the proposal writeup, review, and submission process. Who, specifically, will occupy these roles will depend on a number of factors, including funding level and SPN’s level of involvement.

The following illustrates how the research and innovation components fit together in a lifecycle model to support SPN’s activities.

SPN Research & Innovation Framework

For those ideas that would not require external funding, the Framework should be helpful, but other procedural and structural elements of SPN would be used to support that idea, such as established working groups. A SPN working group may design additional documentation to facilitate supporting ideas that do not need external funding.

This framework is designed to support new ideas within SPN using the Research and Innovation Continuum (Appendix 2) to further define and refine the idea and then, when appropriate, situate that idea in the fundraising framework.

Preferred citation:

SPN Steering Committee. (2020, September 24). SPN Research & Innovation Framework. Software Preservation Network.