Making a difference:
Impact report 2017
Medical research charities are committed to funding research that positively impacts people living with health conditions or diseases. For many charities, this is only made possible through public donations and so charities must let the public know how their money is being spent and what impact it is having. However, when it takes an average of 17 years to develop a new idea into a medical product available to the public, how can medical research charities show the difference they make?
Introduction to the data in the report and the researchfish® system which was used to collect the data. The report analyses the impact outcomes collected by 40 funders using the researchfish® system in April 2016. There are 5,287 awards in total and these have been categorised by grant type, research activity and health category. The impact outcomes which were attributed to the awards have been split into five different areas:
One of the most immediate outcomes of a piece of research is the generation of new knowledge and resources to support further research. This can be split into three aspects:
Research tools and methods
Methods of databases and models
For research to progress, new ideas need to be translated into new products, protocols or treatments that can benefit patients.
This can be split into four types of outputs generated throughout the translation process:
Protection and licensing of intellectual property
Spin out companies
Medical products and interventions
Software and technical products
For research to make a difference, its findings needs to be shared with a wider audience, so that it can inform the public, stimulate new ways of working and influence policy. For many charities, supporting researchers who are willing to engage with policy makers is vital to ensure that the findings generated by research are acted upon. Influencing can be split into two aspects:
Influences on policy and practice
For medical research to achieve maximum success, it needs funding from multiple sources and the development of partnerships with other researchers, companies and patients groups. By leveraging further funding and working with partners, it means that the research funded by charities is leading to increased investment and expanded networks of influence. Stimulating further research can be split into two aspects:
Research can only take place if there are a sufficient number of trained and engaged researchers who are able to take on the work, and there are the right facilities and resources to allow research to progress. Supporting researchers is a vital part of ensuring that new concepts are developed into treatments for patients. Funders can assess how well they are developing this capacity by looking at three aspects:
Awards and recognitions
Use of facilities and resources
It would be expected that different aspects of research would lead to different impacts, so as well as examining the outputs of charity-funded research across the 5 areas of impact, it is also interesting to see if there were any patterns that linked the kind of research being funded with the kinds of impact that were reported.
As is expected, there is often a delay between when a new award starts and when the research leads to an outcome. However this delay can differ for the different outcome types and so the data collected here by charity-funded researchers allows us to see the different trends.
Having assessed more than 64,000 outputs reported to medical research charities using the researchfish® system, it is clear that all charities regardless of size can demonstrate an impact. The discussion brings all the sections together and comments on a few themes drawn on throughout the report:
the importance of including a broad variety of outcomes (not just publications),
analysis across cause, cure and care awards
the challenges for medical research charities in assessing impact
the difference that medical research charities make
Tables and figures with additional analyses to supplement the report.
Methods used to analyse the data.
An overview of the health research classification system health category and research activity codes, and the grant type descriptions.
Further notes on the report and methods used, and a list of the 40 funders who kindly shared their data so it could be included in the report.
Executive Summary Chapter One
Introduction and Context Chapter Two
Generating New Knowledge Chapter Three
Translating Research Ideas Into Products and Services Chapter Four
Creating Evidence That Will Influence Policy or Other Stakeholders Chapter Five
Stimulating Further Research via New Funding or Partnerships Chapter Six
Developing the Human Capacity to Do Research Chapter Seven
Analysis by Research Activity, Type of Award and Time Taken Chapter Eight
Discussion Chapter Nine
Case Studies Chapter Ten
Appendix 1 Appendices
Appendix 2 Appendices
Appendix 3 Appendices