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Kolabtree’s freelance scientist Dr. Hugo Lisboa talks about completing 100 projects on Kolabtree, the diverse skills he brings to various projects and how freelance scientific consultants have started to work on high-impact industry projects.
Dr. Hugo Lisboa is a food and biomaterials scientist, who has recently transitioned to full time freelancing on Kolabtree. It was in the middle of the pandemic that Hugo, who had moved to Brazil from his native Portugal, came across Kolabtree and signed up as a freelance scientist.
Hugo was working as a professor at a university when the pandemic struck. His contract was not renewed, leading him to look for alternate work options, including freelance consulting online. A featured article on Nature, which spoke about Kolabtree bringing scientists and researchers into the ‘gig economy’, drew his attention. Soon, he had signed up on Kolabtree as a freelance scientist and started sending proposals to on-demand projects that matched his skill sets.
Scientific expertise and industry projects as a freelance scientist
Hugo holds a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, and a degree in Chemical Engineering. He has had a unique career trajectory, having worked in both academia and business over the years. This has given him a unique blend of skills, combining theoretical as well as industrial perspective, in terms of helping business owners and organizations through Kolabtree as a freelance scientist.
Hugo takes up a wide variety of food science, biomaterials research and general product consulting projects through the Kolabtree platform, where companies can access independent scientific experts directly.
Hugo’s focus area during his PhD was polysaccharides, and chemical engineering and food science is his forte. He works with clients on extensive projects involving product formulation, flavoring and shelf life of food and chemical products. He is skilled at taking a prototype and making it a large-scale product, applying the diverse range of skills at his disposal.
“This overlap of food science, chemical engineering and materials science”, he says, “This is what I bring to the table, something that clients might not necessarily be able to find in a single in-house hire”. Right from helping a Stanford grad formulate ‘vegan eggs’, to working on developing edible polysaccharides and flavored mints, Hugo’s projects on Kolabtree are wide-ranging and diverse.
Collaborating with Clients as a freelance scientist
Apart from his flexible schedule and diverse range of projects, Hugo’s favorite part about working as a remote freelance scientist is working with clients at various stages of the product funnel, right from conception all the way to the product going to market. Recently, he was also invited by one of his clients to travel onsite to the United states and work out of a lab for a few days, an experience that offered him “a nice change of scenery”, in his words.
Having been a freelance scientist for over 2 years now, Hugo keeps in contact with clients he works with through the platform, and collaborates with them on recurring projects consistently. The growing influx of scientists, industry experts and researchers into the gig economy has greatly benefited experts like Hugo, and he thinks this trend is here to stay.
He says “The needle is shifting, and I think this is our future. The pandemic has shown companies and independent entrepreneurs the value of cost-effective scientific consulting. Whilst earlier there might have been an inclination towards internal hires, companies are now looking to tap into the growing freelance knowledge economy of scientists and researchers for demand-based consulting.
Why keep an expert around throughout the year when you can simply collaborate with a diverse range of experts on-demand as and when the need arises. This method is great for companies to test fresh ideas with different experts, and work on milestone-based high-impact projects.”
Ensuring Data Confidentiality as a Freelance Scientist
So, how do client-expert conversations shape up within platforms like Kolabtree before a hire is made?
“Data confidentiality is the most crucial aspect”, says Hugo, “Of course, experts such as myself have their own code of ethics and we work with integrity. Platforms vet our background, publications and projects thoroughly before our profiles are verified, but even otherwise, I always make sure I prompt the client to sign an NDA even before our first meeting, unless the initial conversations are just high-level.
I also insist on collaborating through the Kolabtree workspace, in order to keep information confidential. In most cases, the terms and conditions are straightforward and the NDAs are signed within Kolabtree before the project officially begins.”
Tips for Freelancers
This attention to detail has helped Hugo build up a pipeline of regular clients, as he looks forward to his next set of freelance projects. So, what are Hugo’s insights and advice to new freelancers gravitating towards remote consulting through platforms like Kolabtree?
He says, “Make it easy for prospective clients to find you on Kolabtree. Use scheduling tools to make sure the client can reach you quickly at a time that aligns with your schedule. This will help avoid unnecessary back and forth, and help bring the client to the table to discuss the project straight away.
Frame your proposals in a way that tells the client what unique value you can add to the project. And, most importantly, keep applying to projects that match your skill sets. That first project is just a click away, and it will be straightforward from there”
Watch the full interview below.