Every year NERC invests more than £350m in research, training and support for environmental science. It is important that we can show the benefits of this investment by demonstrating the impact NERC-funded research has on government policy, the economy and society, on top of its use to academics.
The impact of our research is shown in various different ways, and the NERC website contains many examples. These are summarised below.
What do we mean by "impact"?
NERC uses the following definition of impact:
"An action or activity has an economic impact when it affects the welfare of consumers, the profits of firms and/or the revenue of government. Economic impacts range from those that are readily quantifiable, in terms of greater wealth, cheaper prices and more revenue, to those less easily quantifiable, such as effects on the environment, public health and quality of life."
From the 2006 Warry report: Increasing the Economic Impact of Research Councils .
Demonstrating NERC's impact
NERC's Science Impacts Database includes more than 200 examples of where NERC science has made, or has the potential to make, a political, economic, social or practical impact. Examples include the development of a safer and cleaner way to mine gold by reducing the use of mercury and work showing that mature tropical forests affect the global climate by continuing to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
In addition to the case studies available on the Science Impacts Database, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) carried out a study of ten examples of NERC-funded research to quantify their impact on the economy. The results of the PwC study were published in the report Economic Benefits of Environmental Science.
NERC's Economic Impact Baseline describes our contribution to improving quality of life. It highlights the economic impact NERC makes by training highly skilled people, enabling improvements to existing businesses and government services, attracting global investment to the UK, and creating new businesses.
The Economic Impact Reporting Framework gives facts and figures about NERC's overall investments in research and training, which underpin our ability to make a difference to Britain. As well as detailing the impact of research on academia, it describes the achievements of our knowledge exchange activities.
These activities support networking and collaboration, science into policy activities, commercialisation, and working in partnership with the users of NERC-funded research. Details can be found on the working with business and information for policymakers web pages. These pages also explain how potential users can draw on environmental sciences research supported by NERC to benefit the sectors in which they work.
For further information about impact and knowledge exchange at NERC, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.