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Excellence with impact

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) collectively invest £7 billion in research and innovation 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
  • intelligence for policy making.

What is impact?

Impact is 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

We 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 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 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?

In making applications to the Research Councils applicants will have to demonstrate the pathways to impact for their research. Careful consideration of Pathways to Impact is an essential component of research proposals and a condition of funding:

The Research Councils’ position and expectations in relation to the delivery of benefits and economic and societal impact from our investments in excellent research, training, knowledge exchange and translation, can be found in the former RCUK position and expectations (PDF, 111KB).

A Joint statement (PDF, 95KB) on impact by the former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) with Universities UK (UUK) sets out  a shared commitment to support and promote a dynamic and internationally competitive research and innovation base that makes an increased and sustainable contribution, both nationally and globally, to economic growth, wellbeing, and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

Both of these documents will be reviewed by UKRI in due course.  

Further information on how each UKRI Council supports knowledge exchange, innovation and impact can be found on each site: