Funding applications and Impact
EPSRC, and increasingly other funding bodies, require some sort of impact statement as part of any funding application. What follows is based on current EPSRC requirements, but is broadly in alignment with definitions and expectations of other funders.
The 'impact' component of an EPSRC application has 2 parts, the 'Impact Summary' and the 'Pathway to Impact'. The key point to remember is that both of these are focused on non-academic impact, so publications, conference presentations and seminars with academic audiences don't count here (information on these should be included in the 'Academic Beneficiaries' section and the Case for Support).
You don't need to predict exactly what's going to happen, but you should demonstrate that you've thought about who and what could potentially benefit in the longer term, and what needs to be done to increase the chances of this happening.
The Impact Summary should summarise:
- Who cares?
- What are they likely to use your results for? (or will an intermediary do this step?)
The Pathway to Impact should follow on from the Impact Summary, and explain:
- What difference will your results make?
- How will this come about?
- Why will this be more effectively/speedily achieved than if anyone else did the same research?
You should clearly identify the sequence of events:
- the changes that your results will lead to - new knowledge transferred to the public and/or private sectors, new partnerships, new skills
- how each of these things will happen, and
- the benefits that will actually acrue in terms of economic and/or social return - XYZ will be improved or enhanced or work better or for longer. Industry standards bodies and industry associations count as beneficiaries here.
Other things to consider including are:
- Do you have any ongoing strategy for engagement with beneficiaries? e.g. an industrial advisory panel for the project; membership of industry fora
- Can you reference any relevant industry roadmap or Government strategy to emphasise national importance? Other ways to cover this are by involving UK-based companies, explaining how the work complements national research investments etc.
Remember that you can request seperate funding for impact-related activity, including entrepreneurship and/or policy-related training for postdocs.
This is essentially a summary of what's required. If you want more information, the RCUK Pathways to Impact pages are fairly comprehensive.