Annual meeting for the Global research Council

The 2019 GRC-Global research Council- Annual Meeting took place in brazil on May 1–3, 2019 in the city of São Paulo. The focus was “Addressing Expectations of Societal and Economic Impact”. Over 60 Heads of Research Councils participated with more than 150 delegates. From Sweden, The Director Generals from The Swedish Research Council (VR) and Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) were present with support from the director from the Brazilian OSI (Office of Science and Innovation). Research funding policy issues was discussed, and good practices was shared.

The meeting was hosted by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and co-hosted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina (CONICET).

The meeting was framed by the increased expectations of funding organizations to deliver research which has societal and economic impact. One discussion addressed the implications of relying on societal and economic impact as funding criteria. The second discussion focused on assessing and demonstrating the impact of funded projects after their completion.

Ingrid Petersson (Director General, Formas) was chair for the session “Assessing and demonstrating the impact of Research ex post” which contained interesting discussions about how to measure scientific relevance and impact from research. Photo: Office of Science and Innovation Brazil.

As political decision-makers worldwide commit substantial amounts of public funds to support and foster scientific research on behalf of and for the society they represent, they expect in return some measure of impact. No research is impact-free but the impact can have different forms like advancement of knowledge (scientific impact), the development of societies (societal impact) and fostering innovation (economic impact). The different forms of impact can come in different degree and different points in time and vary in their predictability and measurability.

An interesting view presented was that the “result” or “impact” from funded research projects often can be seen as processes developing over time and not a result to be quantified on a specific point in time. The ex post evaluations of impact from research is therefore not easily measured.

A statement of principles was endorsed by the GRC at the meeting containing 18 statements with one of the main points that the scientific excellence of the research should not be compromised on.

In connection to the annual meeting were opportunities for several side-meetings. The OSI together with the VR and Formas had meetings with Fapesp to discuss further possibilities for cooperation and common calls. Fapesp, despite not being on a federal level but state level, is a significant research funder in Brazil, with annual funding on the same level as the largest federal funding agencies like Capes and CNPq.