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Excellence with impact

The Research Councils collectively invest £3 billion in research each year to meet tomorrow’s challenges today, bringing about a positive impact in our society, economy and in our lives through:

Creating new knowledge

  • Funding basic research excellence
  • Responding to society’s challenges
  • Developing skills, leadership and infrastructure
  • Leading UK research direction

Driving innovation

  • Creating environments and brokering partnerships
  • Co-delivering research and innovation with 2,500 businesses
  • Intelligence for policy making

What is impact?

RCUK defines impact as the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. This occurs in many ways – through creating and sharing new knowledge and innovation; inventing groundbreaking new products, companies and jobs; developing new and improving existing public services and policy; enhancing quality of life and health; and many more.

Types of research impact

The Research Councils aim to achieve research impact across all our activities. This can involve academic impact, economic and societal impact, or both:

  • Academic impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes to scientific advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, method, theory and application.
  • Economic and societal impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations.

Why does impact matter?

  • Spending public money means demonstrating the benefits of that investment to society = accountability
  • Research can be improved by engaging with a broad range of potential beneficiaries = quality
  • Shortening time to benefits, and increasing the impact we know our investments have = maximising benefits
  • It enhances UK attractiveness for research and innovation investment = reputation

How do we ensure our research has impact?

There are a number of ways we ensure that we deliver maximum impact from the research we fund:


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