One intention of the project was to see if collaborations with industry could be an alternative funding stream for small specialist museums. None of the collaborations we secured have brought in additional funding. We have found it is easier for companies, as it is for us all, to give time, material and other in-kind support. This does however have monetary value.
It is currently too early to assess the benefits of the collaborations to the companies concerned however it is probably better to see the first collaboration as a way of beginning a relationship. If it goes well and it is an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for the company, it will lead on to other things, and if they do value it then the probability of the company making a financial contribution increases.
Advantages of the Symbiosis model
- MoDiP has received considerable in kind support from and developed a strong relationship with four companies on which we hope to build in the future.
- MoDiP has four significant online resources to enhance its website. These are resources that we would not have been able to make without collaboration with the companies involved.
- We now have examples of interactions with companies to show to other companies in the future to demonstrate what we can provide.
- MoDiP staff has had privileged access to four companies resulting in a step change in its understanding of how the plastics and design industries operate and the challenges of manufacturing in plastics. Our expertise has greatly increased.
- A significant number of objects have been donated to the museum.
- Objects made of plastics tend to be anonymous but these objects have come with detailed documentation of a depth seldom possible to achieve.
- The confidence of MoDiP workforce has been increased in terms of how to approach and talk to members of industry.
- MoDiP has made meaningful and useful contact with other small museums which face similar problems with which we hope to have ongoing fruitful relationships.
- We hope that the project has led to the development of a useful resource which will have ongoing value within the museum sector.
Disadvantages of the Symbiosis model
- The employment of an industry consultant is expensive and probably not something that would be possible for many museums.
- We contacted 70 companies and this led only to 5 meetings and 4 collaborations. This required a lot of investment. In normal circumstances it would be difficult to free up the resource.
- Each collaboration took a long time to secure. The shortest time from initial contact to the go ahead to collaborate was six months, the longest nine months. It requires a lot of stamina on the part of museum staff.
- We received support in-kind but no financial contribution.
The Symbiosis project and the collaborations with industry that it has engendered have certainly been of immense benefit for MoDiP. As this account of the advantages and disadvantages demonstrates, the advantages of the Symbiosis journey far outweigh the disadvantages. MoDiP staff feels in a much stronger position from which to approach companies for collaborations in the future. It is hoped that the 10 Steps guide will help to extend the benefits of the project to other small specialist museums.