Explaining Funding Activity Benefits – an Interview with the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Denmark

“Our strategy drove us to adopt Researchfish – to communicate the value of our activities we needed a standardised Research Impact Assessment platform. The benefits are now very clear – for the first time we have systematic reporting from all our grants and are able to clearly demonstrate the impact of our activities to all stakeholders.”

“By adopting Researchfish you will be able to collect data immediately and gain a systematic knowledge of output. It is also good for researchers as they will have one system to report into rather than many. I would not hesitate to recommend Researchfish.”

Thomas Alslev Christensen, PhD, Chief Operating Officer of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, explains the Foundation’s use of the Researchfish standardised Research Impact Assessment Platform to demonstrate to its stakeholders the value of its funding activities.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. The objective of the Novo Nordisk Foundation is twofold: to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities conducted by the companies within the Novo Group and to support scientific and humanitarian purposes.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation primarily awards grants for research within biomedicine, biotechnology, general practice and family medicine, nursing and art history at public research institutions. The Foundation also awards grants for eliciting innovation and for humanitarian and social causes, including the research programs at the Steno Diabetes Center.

For the last two years, the Novo Nordisk Foundation have used Researchfish to capture the outcomes of their funded research to enable them to analyse and report the impact of their funded research. As the Novo Nordisk Foundation finances nearly 6-7% of all public research in Denmark they need to show and explain the benefit to society of their activities in order to continue to be able to do so.

 

The Novo Nordisk Foundation adopted Researchfish in 2015 and have had four successful submission periods. According to Dr Christensen, “The 2017 and 2018 annual submissions exceeded expectations, with a response rate of 100%. The main reason is that the Foundation requires the research institutions being funded to report annually. Further, we explain to them why it is so important for us to measure the impact of research: if we want to be able to continue to fund research we need to know the impact and value of our funding to society and be able to explain this to the public. This is part of the Foundation’s licence to operate.”

 

Before the Foundation’s adoption of Researchfish they did not capture outputs and impact information and so weren’t effectively reporting value.

 

“Our strategy drove us to adopt Researchfish – to communicate the value of our activities we needed a standardised Research Impact Assessment platform,” explained Dr Christensen. “The benefits are now very clear – for the first time we have systematic reporting from all our grants and are able to clearly demonstrate the impact of our activities to all stakeholders.”

 

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is now known as leading the way in Research Impact Assessment excellence in Denmark. “We have clear visibility of our activities with research companies and institutions that we are able to communicate. Without Researchfish we would lose the connection between our activities and outcomes.”

 

Over the next five years, Dr Christensen thinks that Research Impact Assessment will become more and more sophisticated with analysis across foundations, universities and institutions giving research impact increasingly greater visibility to society. “Researchfish has been a catalyst to establishing a research impact assessment community to drive forward the discipline’s adoption and development to the benefit of all.”

 

We concluded the interview by asking Dr Christensen what his message would be to a funding organisation not using Researchfish. “By adopting Researchfish you will be able to collect data immediately and gain a systematic knowledge of output. It is also good for researchers as they will have one system to report into rather than many. I would not hesitate to recommend Researchfish.”

 
 

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