Enhancing Impact: The Value of Public Sector R&D

See on Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university

New Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) report on impact of UK research advocates it’s case in a special report. This is the second in a series of linked reports on gaining the most value from UK research, and in particular its publiclyfunded research. The first report sets the UK’s spend on R&D in an international context, and this follow-up assesses the impact of that expenditure. It highlights the many benefits of publicly-funded research, but stresses the vital importance of moving from simple measures of success, such as university spin-outs and patents, to a more nuanced understanding of the connections between public and private sectors in a system of knowledge production and innovation.

 

“There are strong economic reasons for governments to invest public funds in innovation. Early stage far from market R&D is inherently uncertain, and companies may not be willing to take the risks necessary to achieve long-term benefit to the country. Furthermore, the value extracted by firms who do invest in innovation, may be less than the value to society as a whole because other firms may benefit from ‘spillover’ effects arising from their ability to piggy back on the knowledge
generated by the orginal investing firm. Consequently governments – supported by business and civil society – must invest in R&D as part of their responsibility to drive economic growth. How success is measured, and how therefore to organise the system of public sector intervention to maximise success, is central to innovation strategies.
The Treasury impact assessment model, for example, proceeds in a linear fashion from activity to impact1. If you applied such Treasury logic to innovation, then activity (e.g. R&D) would lead to outputs (e.g. research papers and outcomes of clinical trials), and impacts (in terms of changes in overall productivity and performance resulting from, say, a new product or form of treatment).
By the most simple of output measures – namely articles, citations and usage per researcher – the UK is second only to the US as a research publishing nation. Moreover, it requires less research spend per publication than in comparator countries (Elsevier, 2011; passim). And these papers are broadly used in industry: 44% of articles downloaded by corporate users were
university-authored publications, with the rest made up equally of articles authored by hospitals, research institutes and firms. Likewise, more than 77% of all downloads of corporate-authored articles were by users in the academic sector. This suggests a rich pattern of interaction and a strong indication of the role of publications as a pathway to potential impact in the UK.
Publications are only one measure of impact, and tracking R&D into business, the economy and society remains a pressing issue in these fiscally difficult times. In reality, however, a much more complex model emerges than the Treasury model allows, with multiple feedback loops and pathways, and where the ability to measure the impact diminishes over time as
the number of complementary players involved in successful implementation increases.

Each publicly-invested pound moves along multiple pathways to achieve impact. As the US National Academy of Engineering notes: ‘numerous diverse, robust, and often mutually reinforcing vectors link academic research to industry, including direct hiring of students, graduates, and faculty; temporary exchanges of researchers; faculty consultancy; industry-sponsored research contracts and grants; research centres; consortia; industrial liaison programmes; technology licensing; start-up companies; publications; and conferences’.”

 

The CIHE is a strategic leadership network of blue-chip companies working with vice chancellors and universities to develop the UK’s knowledge-based economy.

Source: http://www.cihe.co.uk/

See on www.cihe.co.uk

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About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: www.rsm.nl Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: http://www.mendeley.com/collections/694621/RMIMR-Repository/ The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: http://www.mendeley.com/collections/rss/694621/ Here is my other weblog on impact of research: http://www.scoop.it/t/dualimpact

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