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Big DATA approaches FOR improved monitoring of research and innovation performance and assessment of the societal IMPACT in the Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing Societal Challenge

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Data4Impact (Big DATA approaches FOR improved monitoring of research and innovation performance and assessment of the societal IMPACT in the Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing Societal Challenge)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2019-10-31

Recent economic and societal developments created a strong demand for additional evidence on the performance of research and innovation (R&I) systems, as well as the societal impact they bring. However, this increased demand is not being met by the current R&I indicators, as data collection typically stops at the end of research funding, while most results and impacts materialise in the medium- and long-term of the R&I lifecycle. Data4Impact aimed to address this problem by capitalising on the latest technological developments in big data technologies and analytics (Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning). In order to provide better R&I monitoring and impact assessment, Data4Impact combined large volumes of structured and unstructured data from different sources and applied its methodology on publicly funded health research in EU member states over the course of the project.
Building upon state-of-the-art in innovation research, the Data4Impact consortium established an integrated conceptual framework. In line with the framework, a series of indicators were developed on the performance and societal impact of 40+ research programmes in the health domain. The comprehensive set of data and indicators combine publication, patent, company/innovation, clinical guidelines, project monitoring, as well as various social media/media and other types of online data. Through a series of dissemination activities and validation workshops involving EU (FP7 and H2020), three national settings (Sweden, UK, Germany) and key stakeholders, the proposed methods and indicators were successfully validated.
However, the overarching finding and lesson learned in Data4Impact is that stakeholders’ needs are very diverse. Balancing these stakeholder needs is a challenge to big data, but also an opportunity because big data can serve as a means to answer a broad multitude of policy questions due to its bottom-up nature. This potential hinges on technological solutions – one needs platforms, tools and services which serve policymakers’ needs. This is a key activity for Data4Impact and the envisaged follow-up/exploitation activities after the end of the project. Data4Impact partners have been developing an online monitoring platform (which is hosted at monitor.data4impact.eu) that allows stakeholders to view these indicators for different entities, as well as make comparisons between projects/programmes and across time.
The project has implemented all of its planned activities and achieved the milestones and deliverables set out in the Description of Action (DoA). The first part of the Data4Impact project was dedicated to the establishment of an integrated conceptual framework building upon state-of-the-art in innovation research. We defined relevant input sources, identified data analysis workflows and integrated them into a common platform to enable visualisation and interrogation of project/funder quality indicators. Through its activities during the second reporting period, the project gathered the results produced across various Work Packages. The results were validated through a selection and implementation of pilot studies in WP6. In the final stage of the project, the Data4Impact consortium built an end-to-end business intelligence data and visualisation tool, the Data4Impact Monitoring Platform (currently under development and available at monitor.data4impact.eu). This tool integrates the results produced across various Work Packages and allows users to view interactive visualisations and download relevant indicators. The platform along with the Data4Impact methods and results have been successfully validated through a series of cross-cutting dissemination and awareness raising activities.
Through its activities, Data4Impact aimed to address the challenges outlined in the Work Programme 2016-2017 Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies, under the Topic “CO-CREATION-08-2016-2017: better integration of evidence on the impact of research and innovation in policy making”. We expect that Data4Impact methods and results achieved throughout the project will have a significant impact on several sectors and layers relevant to these challenges, including policymakers and research funders at national and EU levels, academic communities, researchers, but also the general public. More specifically, the work carried out under the main thematic pillars is expected to have impact in two specific areas:
A) A monitoring of research and innovation performance which captures the broader spectrum of ways in which research and innovation activities translate into outputs and impact
Data4Impact derived meaningful data and indicators for policymakers, programme funders and other stakeholders based on a wealth of information brought together from a variety of sources and state-of-the-art methods. As a result, we are not only able to understand better the ways in which impact is generated but also improve our model and align it with the diverse needs and requirements of policymakers and stakeholders. The integrated AMOSIA conceptual framework that builds on the state-of-the-art in innovation research and is linked to the impact dimension (WP2) served as the basis for the Data4Impact’s work. Following this framework, the Data4Impact consortium defined relevant input sources, identified data analysis workflows and integrated them into a common platform (WP3) to enable visualisation and interrogation of project/funder quality indicators. The Data4Impact Monitoring Platform, which is a key output of WP6, facilitates the monitoring of R&I performance by showcasing the multidimensionality of the outputs and impact of R&I activities. Data4Impact’s work in other Work Packages was also highly relevant for the development of improved monitoring of research and innovation performance, for instance the development of novel indicators based on the unstructured data from company websites was directly related to the creation of novel approaches in WP5 to monitor the impact of research which extended beyond the traditional indicators used in the field.
B) A reliable assessment of the societal benefits generated by public funding for research and innovation, and the impact it has on tackling major societal challenges
Data4Impact employed big data sources and approaches to derive data on the societal impact of research. The impact of Data4Impact’s research was further reinforced by combining output/result and impact with input and throughput data in a systematic way, resulting in a comprehensive set of evidence for national and EU-level policymakers and funders. The extended conceptual framework established in WP2 provided an overview of different stages and unique data points throughout the innovation process as well as showed how they are interconnected at the higher level. WP3 provided platform and tools to acquire the input and throughput data supporting the analysis workflows and integrating the metrics and indicators data in the Data4Impact platform database. Data4Impact’s work in other Work Packages was also highly relevant for the development of a reliable assessment of the societal benefits generated by public funding for R&I. For instance, our topic modelling activities carried out WP4 linked all stages of input-to-impact through an additional dimension.
Landing page of the Data4Impact Monitoring Platform
Data4Impact theme image
Sidebar and search from the Data4Impact Monitoring Platform
Interactive visualisation from the Data4Impact Monitoring Platform
Data4Impact logo
Example of portfolio from the Data4Impact Monitoring Platform