Tag Archives: Economic impact

Impact Strategy for the Next Spending Review

Department of Research & Innovation welcome the Research Councils UK to Swansea University to present a seminar and receive questions on their

‘Impact Strategy for the Next Spending Review’

  When: Wednesday 16th March 12.00pm to 1.00pm

Where: SURF Room – 1st floor Fulton House

Speaker Profiles: Dr Claire Graves is head of Knowledge Transfer and Economic Impact for the RCUK

She was awarded her PHD in Geography at Leicester University, after which Claire researched harbour management and geophysics at Nottingham. Claire moved across to the EPSRC in 2000 where she was the portfolio manager for the transport and automotive sector before moving onto Public Affairs. She was seconded to the RCUK in 2007 where she is now responsible for delivering the cross council impact agenda.

Who will benefit from attending? Anyone interested in Impact from their research

By the end of the seminar, attendees will know more about?  The new funding landscape of RCUK, their Strategic Vision and the Pathways to Impact

Next Steps: places are limited, to enrol please reply to researchandinnovation@swansea.ac.uk

Future Seminars:  31st March between 10am to 12 noon – Arts and Humanities Research Council (DRI seminar room, 7th floor Faraday)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and training, REF

Blue skies? Willets, the REF, Research Impact and Research Funding

Today, 9th July, the universities and science minister, David Willetts, in a speech to the Royal Institution, confirmed  that the REF is to be postponed for a year.  The problem with measuring economic impact of research would appear to be the primary reason. He has stressed the need to find a reliable measure of impact that would find consensus within the academic community. However, he also expressed the view that the significance of scientific research could not always be measured by its short-term economic impact, as with the unexpected benefits of blue skies research. “”The surprising paths which serendipity takes us down is a major reason why we need to think harder about impact.” Over the next year, the lessons of the pilot exercise and the experiences of other countries (e.g. Star Metrics in the USA) will be drawn upon.

Willetts rejected the previous government’s thinking on funding of scientific research and innovation.

You’re supposed to put money into university-based scientific research, which leads to patents and then spinout companies that secure venture capital backing. The mature business provides tax revenues for the Government, jobs for the local area, a nice profit for the university.

Yet, he said, on average only 3% of university income ever came from commercialisation of  intellectual property.

There were better ways of “harvesting the benefits from research”. Amongst these he said he favoured “clusters”, which he defined as “low-risk environment for high-risk activity”, citing the example of computer games and media companies based around Abertay University.

Government backing for research does make economic sense, he said, and the Research Councils’ funding of scientific research was effective in “generating wider benefits across the economy as a whole”. There may be cuts ahead, but essentially the dual funding system was working and he supported the Haldane principle.

In terms of his own thinking on policy for supporting and developing the research base, he believes that:

  1. Publicly funded research facilities ( Government support for “shared facilities – research platforms if you like – which private companies could not develop on their own”)
  2. Public procurement contracts given to innovative SMEs (“A purchasing contract can be as effective a way to get money to an innovative small business as a grant or a capital investment: this is particularly important at times when banks are so reluctant to lend.”
  3. Public competitions for new technologies (“And it need not be Government which sets the prize or the challenge – it can happen in marketplaces on the web too.”)

You can read the speech in full on the BIS website or read reports from THE & The Engineer.

Leave a comment

Filed under REF, Research Funding, Research Impact, Research News

HEFCE publishes RAND Europe report on Research Impact Methodologies

News that HEFCE have just published Capturing Research Impacts: A review of international practice is of particular interest for Swansea University since we will be participating in the HEFCE Pilot Exercise on Research Impact.

This is the report Hefce commissioned from RAND Europe to bring together knowledge gained from international experiences in assessing research impact. The review will help inform development of this new aspect of the REF.  Notably, the review “suggests that the work of the Australian RQF Working Group on Impact Assessment might provide a basis for developing an approach to impact in the REF”. (See previous entries on this blog regarding the RQF.)

RAND Europe has already established experience in this area. See for example, Exploring the impact of arthritis research

Full report and executive summary are available at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rdreports/2009/rd23_09/

Leave a comment

Filed under REF, Research Impact

Research Impact – debate, policy, methods

There has been much debate about this element of the REF proposals. Nobel laureates have raised objections. The Russell Group have stated that they are “broadly supportive of introducing a measure of the economic and social impact of research, provided that this is underpinned by a robust methodology which commands the confidence of the academic community”.  A petition against the use of research impact in the allocation of funding has been created on the No. 10 website.  An earlier petition, set up in June 2009, before the REF proposals were published, opposed the imposition of impact statements which funding councils now often require as part of a grant application; and knowledge transfer staff in universities have complained that they are being swamped with requests to write these “impact statements”.

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and David Sweeney, Director of Research & Innovation at HEefce, have both indicated that research funding is limited and that there is a need to evaluate the impact of research. The policy context they cite is the Science & Innovation Investment Framework, 2004-14. There is a need, say Hefce, to “strengthen links between investment in research and the economic and social benefits it delivers”.  The same message is to be found in the Research Councils Economic Impact Group’s 2006 paper, Increasing the Economic Impact of the Research Councils.

HEFCE has set out  proposed methods for evaluating impact and is running a pilot exercise.  The methodology to be employed in evaluating research impact,  seems  similar to that proposed for the now defunct Australian RQF exercise. The Australian top 8 research intensive universities opposed impact evaluation, which they felt would be overly bureaucratic and time-consuming. On the other hand,  universities represented by the Australian Tehnology Network, were supportive of the proposals.  The ATN produced an interesting brief report based upon their experience of the Australian research impact pilot exercise. It discusses methodology, and case study examples.

Here in the  UK, UNICO, the Knowledge Transfer professionals’ organisation, have proposed the development of a metrics system to measure the impact of UK publicly funded research. These metrics, they suggest, could be used in attracting industry funding for research and to encourage international research collaborations with universities and with industry.

Leave a comment

Filed under REF, Research Funding, Research Impact

HEPI response to REF proposals

On the 15th October, HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) published their response to the HEFCE proposals for the Research Excellence Framework. On the whole, HEPI is supportive of the proposals but is critical of plans to assess the impact of research. The introduction of impact assessment – i.e. non-academic impact – is something new and experimental. HEFCE are proposing 25% of the assessment score should be given to “impact”. The HEPI response views this as rather high given the experimental nature of the “impact assessment” element.
The report is available to download.

Leave a comment

Filed under REF

HEFCE publishes proposals for REF

HEFCE have published the proposals for the Research Excellence Framework. The document is now out to consultation. It includes proposals for the use of bibliometrics (citation information) & for the assessment of the impact of research.  HEFCE is also conducting a pilot exercise in methods of assessing the research impact.

Leave a comment

Filed under Research News

Lammy on REF & economic impact of research

The Higher Education Minister, in a speech to Universities UK Conference last week, said that he wanted the REF to send “a strong signal and give a strong financial incentive” for university departments to “find ways of helping turn that [research] into impacts that benefit the economy and society as a whole”. In terms of how impact may be assessed, he said: “Improved products and services for business are important, but so are things like improved quality of life, and better evidence-based Government policy-making”. Read the THE report of this speech or read the Minister’s speech in full.

Leave a comment

Filed under Research News