Today Research Councils UK (RCUK) has launched reports detailing the impacts of a collective research investment of £3.4 billion in 2015-16. This investment drives economic growth by helping to deliver the UK's Industrial Strategy of increasing productivity, creating high-value industry, jobs and a skilled workforce.
Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of Research Councils UK, said: "These latest impact reports are valuable documents because they not only show the breadth and diversity of the research the UK research councils fund but also draw attention to the benefits science, engineering and the arts and humanities bring to the lives of UK citizens."
Social science-led research and innovation are central to understanding how people, businesses and governments work effectively at local, regional and global levels. The ESRC Research Performance and Economic Impact Report 2015-16 outlines how our research investment has led to change and improvement in society. In 2015-16 we invested £159 million of our budget in research and infrastructure and £45 million in skills training, and directly leveraged £25 million in additional income.
Examples of some of our major impacts include:
- Quantifying management quality
The ESRC-funded Centre for Economic Performance has pioneered new ways to quantify management quality that has now been implemented in over 20,000 organisations in 34 countries around the world from manufacturing firms to hospitals, retail stores and schools. The measurement tools have been expanded into national statistical offices working with the US Census Bureau, the UK ONS and their equivalents in Pakistan and Germany.
- UK-India social science collaboration and the new Data Service in India
The UK Data Service (UKDS), an ESRC-funded capability investment, has influenced and supported endeavours of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) to develop and launch a Data Service in India. The launch of the new ICSSR Data Service is a resource for 417 institutions across India doing social science research. UKDS researchers have worked collaboratively with senior representatives of ICSSR, sharing learning, processes, UK Data Archive model and protocols, and a licence to use the UKDS HASSET Thesaurus.
- The mobile app supporting Kenyan healthcare
Collaboration with local health services in Kenya led to the development of a mobile app supporting child development assessments, and the training of 100 community health workers – embedding mobile-based practices, improving local healthcare and reducing poverty. The research led to the development of the REFER app – a mobile resource for reference material, guidance and support for child development diagnostics and referrals.