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The SPARC (Supporting Partnerships And Realising Change) programme enables UCD staff and students to work together on projects that make UCD and/or the surrounding community a better place to learn, work and live. UCD Careers Network provides support for these projects in the form of funding (up to €1000), training and project planning/ implementation expertise.

SPARC gives students and staff a unique opportunity to work as equal partners and to stand-out amongst their peers as innovative thinkers and leaders. By working in partnership, staff and students will not only achieve meaningful project results, they will also have the opportunity to develop and enhance their working relationship and come to a greater understanding of each other’s roles within the university.

For students and staff alike, SPARC provides a fantastic opportunity to enhance skills such as project management, problem-solving, communication, planning and organising, leadership and teamwork. You can also use participation in the SPARC programme in your application for a UCD Advantage Award.

Applications for SPARC 2019/20 are now open. If you have an idea and need help bringing it to life, SPARC is the programme for you! Read about last year’s SPARC projects here.

If you have any queries, please contact: sparc@ucd.ie 

sparc timeline

How do I apply?

SPARC has now closed. We will be in touch with all applicants, very soon. 

Selection Process and Key Dates

Step 1:

  • Apply via the online application form before Friday 18th October.
  • Applications will be reviewed by UCD Careers Network the week commencing Monday 21st October. A short-list for progression to Step 2 will be compiled based on the SPARC project assessment criteria.
  • Applicants will be informed if their proposed project has been short-listed the week commencing 28th October. Short-listed applicants will be invited to present their proposed project to the SPARC adjudication panel on Monday 11th November. This is not a formal pitch, more an opportunity for applicants to describe their project and answer some questions from the Panel in an informal setting.
  • Prior to the Adjudication Panel, the SPARC team will provide feedback and support to short-listed applicants to enable them to enhance and refine their project proposal and address the questions that the Panel may put to them.

Step 2:

  • On Monday 11th November 2019 each applicant and their fellow team members will have the opportunity to discuss their project with the Adjudication Panel. Each team will be allocated 10 minutes for this.
  • Following the project presentations, the Adjudication Panel will select successful projects based on the SPARC assessment criteria.
  • Projects will then commence, supported by the UCD SPARC Programme team. 
  • Projects must be completed by August 31st 2020
Terms & Conditions
  • Funding up to a maximum of €1000 will be available to successful applications. Funding will be transferred as required based on vouched project expenses. All expenditure must be agreed in advance with the SPARC Programme Manager.
  • Funding will not be provided for payment of project team members for work done on the project.
  • This initiative is open to current staff and registered students of UCD only.
  • All applications must be made via the online application form on or in advance of the closing date.
  • Individuals can be involved in multiple applications.
  • The decision of the SPARC Adjudication Committee in respect of short-listed and selected applications and assessment of same is final.
  • The SPARC Adjudication Committee reserves the right to seek clarification in respect of any element of applications following submission.
  • It is expected that the intellectual property rights in respect of the SPARC project outcomes will be shared freely.
  • Project teams must consist of three or more people and consist of at least one UCD Staff member and two or more UCD students. Each team must have a nominated Team Leader/Project Manager, a Finance Officer and a Marketing Officer.
  • UCD reserves the right to feature participants and/or details of their projects in future UCD promotional material.
  • SPARC branding must be visible on all materials produced by project teams. UCD Careers Network can provide these logos.
  • Work on SPARC funded projects cannot be recognised in terms of academic credit.
  • SPARC funded projects outputs cannot be used for personal or financial gain.

Each team must meet the project reporting requirements as defined by UCD Careers Network. For 2019/20 these are:

  • Report 1 (300 words approx.): Project update - mid-way through your project
  • Report 2 (500 words approx.): Project review, outcomes and lessons learned - at completion.
SPARC Project Assessment Criteria

Projects will be short-listed and selected against the following criteria:

  • Completeness of the application. Has sufficient detail been provided to enable the Adjudication Panel to understand the nature of the proposed project?
  • Is the project aligned with UCD’s strategic priorities and values?
  • Is the idea new to UCD or does it build on previous work in a meaningful, innovative way?
  • How impactful is the project? The larger the population positively impacted by the project the better. 
  • What is the medium to long term legacy of the project? Projects that have a legacy beyond the initial implementation period are preferred.
  • Is the proposed timeline realistic given the aim of the project?
  • Is it feasible that the project will be implemented within the budget available, i.e. €1000?
  • Is SPARC an appropriate source of funding or would the proposed project be more suited to alternative funding (e.g. from School/Unit operating budgets)