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?
AMRC is helping our members use an online tool called researchfish®, which allows them to collect data on the outcomes of their research funding, and to analyse that data to establish the impact.
The data used comes from research funded by charities as reported by researchers. It has been funded by 40 charities (29% of our membership) over a 4 year period and is based on 5,287 awards worth more than £1.6bn.
We have grouped the research funding outcomes into five areas of impact:
Generating new knowledge: 28,646 publications, tools and methods, databases and models were generated
Translating research ideas into new products and services: 762 protected and licensed intellectual properties, spin out companies, medical products and interventions, software products and technical products were generated
Creating evidence that will influence policy or other stakeholders: 9,462 policy influences and engagement activities resulted
Stimulating further research via new funding or partnerships: 10,958 further funding and partnerships were leveraged
Developing the human capacity to do research: 8,940 new positions and awards and recognitions were achieved
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. Furthermore, the data in researchfish® is only a snapshot of research outcomes and so the full extent of charity impact may not be seen for years to come.
Analysis of the data also offers an insight into what type of outcomes a funder may expect to see linked to their awards and when they are likely to occur after a grant has started. Looking at how impacts are spread across the cause/cure/care continuum, it is clear that more translational outputs would be expected in cure awards than care or cause and that more engagement and influence on policy would be expected in care than cause or cure.
Charity-funded research not only benefits patients it also makes a vital contribution to the UK life sciences sector and economy. Funding from almost a third of our membership leveraged £2bn in further funding from UK and international companies and created 39 spin out companies.
We will continue to monitor and analyse member contributions to medical research by following the complex journey from research to the people who need new drugs and treatments.