By Eva Garritsen, Data and Impact Officer, AMRC

Published: 12 June 2019

With the publication of our new infographic, we took the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the meaning and sources of our stats and how it compares to last year’s stats. In this blog, you will learn more about the ins and outs of our annual infographic and the stories behind the icons.

The importance and value of medical research

There is a high priority placed on medical research in the UK by the public. The number of people donating to medical research in 2018 was obtained from the CAF UK Giving report 2019, which outlines trends in public donations to charity. Overall, the report finds that fewer people are giving to charity, but – thankfully – those who do donate are contributing higher amounts. The good news is that 25% of public donations in 2018 were given to medical research causes. Medical research ranks in the top three causes donors give to.

The briefing ‘Medical Research: What’s it worth?’ estimates the scale of economic returns from medical research. This brings us – after a series of complex calculations and assumptions – the stat of 25p per year and shows the economic benefits of investments into medical research each year which can help secure long-term investment.

How do AMRC charities fit into the UK medical research landscape?

The number of AMRC member charities can fluctuate slightly, but currently we have 146 members who support 41% of all publicly funded medical research in the UK.  Their collective spend is more than the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and more than the Medical Research Council (MRC), the two other major public funders of medical and health research in the UK.

Compared to last year, AMRC’s collective research spend in the UK went down by £0.3bn, this is explained by a dip in Wellcome Trust’s spend due to the timing of large commitments and renewals. Excluding Wellcome, AMRC member charity research spend remains stable. More AMRC charities increased UK spend this year (76 charities) than decreased (65 charities).

When looking at the bigger picture, we can see that the total research spend in the UK from 2009 to 2019 by AMRC members is £13bn. This is an impressive figure and highlights once again the important role charities play in UK life sciences sector and economy. You can find more information about AMRC charity expenditure in our Research Expenditure Briefing 2019.

Charity funded research in 2018

During AMRC’s annual data collection, all charities were asked to provide us with their grants data. After an intensive collation and standardisation process, these grants were added to our main database and analysis was performed on the grants that were active in 2018. This enormous database provided us with several interesting stats including the number of researchers and PhD students’ salaries funded by AMRC charities and the geographic distribution of AMRC charity funded research. These figures are similar to last year’s.  

94% of AMRC charity grants took place in universities and hospitals, including NHS-affiliated institutions. This number has increased by 2% from last year and 87% of the grants took place in universities alone. These stats continue to highlight the importance of charity-university partnerships.

Working in partnership

Last year’s data collection was the first time we asked for any information on co-funding and we’re thrilled to be able to share these fascinating figures for a second year. Just like last year, 1 in 8 grants were co-funded, but this year we decided to give you the relative percentage of grants co-funded by each organisation type. The organisation types included were the top five co-funders, the other co-funders not shown include universities, NHS/hospitals, networks, institutes, and societies.

We’re striving to find more ways of demonstrating how our charities partner, because we suspect we’re only skimming the surface with these stats. For instance, some grants were co-funded with organisations in multiple sectors. These were grouped together into one ‘multiple’ category and weren’t included in the percentages shown. For future analyses, it could be interesting to dive into these numbers in more detail, so watch this space!

Clinical studies and trials funded by AMRC member charities

The last three stats from our infographic are all extracted from NIHR Clinical Research Network’s Open Data Platform and based on the previous financial year (2018-19). The CRN provides infrastructure for clinical research funded by charities and others that takes place in the NHS. Over 200,000 people were recruited into AMRC charity funded clinical studies and trials, and these account for almost a third of non-commercial research supported by the CRN! You can see some of the top specialties of these studies and trials by numbers of participants in the bar chart.

Now that you have a complete guide to all the essential things you need to know about our infographic, we hope you will use these stats when highlighting the footprint of the sector. You can download the individual stats and infographics separately from our infographic pack.