Making a difference: Impact report 2017

Making a difference:
Impact report 2017

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Executive summary

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?

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Chapter One

Introduction and context

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:

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Chapter Two

Generating new knowledge

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:

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Chapter Three

Translating research ideas into products and services

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:

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Chapter Four

Creating evidence that will influence policy or other stakeholders

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:

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Chapter Five

Stimulating further research via new funding or partnerships

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:

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Chapter Six

Developing the human capacity to do research

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:

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Chapter Seven

Analysis by Research Activity, Type of Award and Time Taken

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.

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Chapter Eight


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:

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Chapter Nine

Case Studies

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Chapter Ten


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Appendix 1

Tables and figures with additional analyses to supplement the report.

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Appendix 2

Methods used to analyse the data.

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Appendix 3

An overview of the health research classification system health category and research activity codes, and the grant type descriptions.

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Appendix 4

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.

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