Enhancing Impact; the value of public sector R&D

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

key conclusions.


• A wide range of qualitative and quantitative evidence shows that in the UK public sector research investment yields substantial benefits to society in economic and wider social terms


• Where rates of return on public sector research funding can be sensibly estimated they are high (e.g. for health care in the range

10-25% over a 10-25 year time horizon).


• The pathways to impact of public sector research investment are however long, varied and complex, and final impacts on social and economic welfare depend critically on complementary investments being made by the private sector.


• The long time-scales and multiple inputs required to establish impact make quantification in general exceptionally difficult and this is exacerbated by the typically skewed distribution of positive impacts.

As with all innovation-related investments, uncertainty produces outcomes in which a small number of successes account for the bulk of the impact.


• Where quantification is possible, it involves detailed analysis of multiple types of output and input. Attempts to reduce these to a single rate of return at the level of a project or the economy as a whole often requires heroic and questionable assumptions

• It may thus be a serious policy mistake to rely on rate of return calculations as evidence of the health or otherwise of the innovation system. Moreover they give little policy guidance as to which pathways or processes and supporting investments actually led to the impacts.


• More sophisticated systems-based methods of impact measurement emphasising intermediate and trajectory-based measures must be adopted across the research and innovation landscape in order to guide policy development.



Alan Hughes
Centre for Business Research and UK~IRC
Judge Business School
University of Cambridge
Trumpington Street, CB2 1AG, UK
Ben R. Martin
SPRU, University of Sussex
CSaP and CBR
Judge Business School
University of Cambridge


Summary report:



Full report:



See on www.cbr.cam.ac.uk


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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