Tracking the impact of charity research funding
13 February 2013
The way that charities track and report medical research will be transformed from today, as The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) announces a £1m agreement with the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Researchfish. The funding will give all AMRC members with an annual research spend of up to £25 million the chance to use the Researchfish research outcomes system for free for up to three years.
Researchfish is an online facility developed from the MRC’s e-Val system. It enables researchers to easily log the outcomes of their work, allowing research funders to track the impacts of their investments. The platform is currently being used by 17 funding organisations, including eleven AMRC member charities. Typically, research funders pay a subscription to Researchfish based on the amount of funding that is being tracked. However, under the new agreement with the MRC, up to £1m will be made available to the charity sector to allow eligible organisations to use the Researchfish system free of charge.
This development opens up the opportunity for medical research charities to collect information about the outcomes and impact of the research they fund, regardless of their size. This will help them assess how effective their research strategies are, informing their future funding decisions. It will also help them demonstrate to their donors the public benefit their donations are delivering. If adopted consistently across the sector, funders and charities will be able to track the complex pathway of research from lab bench to bedside, at the click of a button, and gain access to far more detailed information about the interactivity of funders in the UK.
Speaking about the agreement, Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of AMRC said:
“MRC’s leadership today will enable charities big and small to track the outcomes of their research, helping us to work together more effectively to deliver benefits for patients.
“This is a brilliant opportunity for funders big and small to assess their role in shaping UK medical research and improving healthcare. By sharing investment and impact data across the sector, our member charities will better understand where they have the greatest impact. And we can all use the unique evidence this generates to help us to identify the importance of collaboration with public and commercial funders, to increase the value of each research pound and so deliver the greatest improvements in medical research.”
Bunia Gorelick, research grants manager at Parkinson's UK who are already using Researchfish, comments:
"We are planning to invest more than £5million in groundbreaking Parkinson's research in 2013 - but keeping track of the impact of our research can be challenging.
"We want to capture a range of different types of outcomes - from published scientific articles and additional funding to public engagement and the real benefits of our research to people living with Parkinson's.
"We hope using Researchfish will help us demonstrate the full impact of what we do, so that every project we fund ultimately brings us closer to better treatments and a cure. It will also provide tangible information for our fundraisers to give back to our funders."
Dr Ian Viney of the MRC added:
“Research funding in the UK benefits from the support of many charities and a small number of public agencies, so it makes sense for us all to use the same tools to measure what we’ve done in a comparable way. It will allow us to better plan what we’re going to do and build on the UK’s success in this area. Over the last five years we’ve used MRC e-Val to gather high quality information about the impact of our research and Researchfish has now developed the system to support any number of funding organisations.”
Frances Buck, spokesperson for Researchfish said:
“We are proud to be working with the AMRC and MRC on this important project. Researchfish enables instant and thorough reporting, so that funders can track progress and crucially, deliver the best possible value for money on their investments for donors.”
Notes for editors:
AMRC member charities that are already using Researchfish include:
• Alzheimer’s Research UK
• Arthritis Research UK
• Asthma UK
• British Heart Foundation
• Cancer Research UK
• Epilepsy Research UK
• Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity
• Kidney Research UK
• Parkinson’s UK
• Stroke Association
For a full list of organisations using Researchfish, please click here.