This is so true:
Often grants cover salaries for postdoc time, PhD student time and tenured academic staff hours. But what we need more often than not (especially in the experimental scenario) are skilled technicians, not just workshop technicians but people who actually know how to operate, modify and improve equipment, and understand on a basic level the experiments being performed. They don’t necessarily need an academic calling to perform such a job, but they would need a financial incentive as it would be rather specialised.
At large facilities these guys are known as ‘Instrument responsibles’.
Alternately, perhaps full economic costing in research proposals should include a slice for consultancy (e.g. for low temperature physics projects it would be very useful to have some DAQ / interface electronic engineers). Any offers welcome but I’m afraid I can only pay you in pizza at the moment 🙂