By Eva Garritsen, Data and Impact Officer, AMRC

Published: 12 February 2020

AMRC’s annual data collection, Spring 2019 - I remember like it was yesterday. It wasn’t a usual data collection, oh no, this one was different. Because in addition to the usual drill of submitting research expenditure and grants data, this time our members could opt in to share their grants data and participate in the UK Health Research Analysis 2018. The what, you say? For those of you who don’t know, the UK Health Research Analysis 2018 is the fourth in a nationwide health research landscaping report series. This series provides an overview of non-commercial health research funding in the UK.  

A record number of AMRC participants

As you can imagine, this was a HUGE opportunity for our charities to demonstrate and highlight the unique role they play in the health research landscape. AMRC was on a mission to involve as many charities in this analysis as possible, and we’re happy to say it was a great success.  91 AMRC members provided their grants data for the analysis, almost doubling the number that participated back in 2014 and allowing for the most accurate representation of the charity sector to date! 

The inclusion of 91 charities’ data was easier said than done. Before we got to this impressive number, we first needed permission from each charity to share their data and make it public. We then went through an extensive data cleaning process and, with the assistance of the grant awards database Dimensions, auto-coded more than 8,000 member charity-funded research projects. This also involved a lot of back and forth communications with the participating charities to ensure their datasets were complete and up to date. Hundreds of emails, spreadsheets and forms later, we had it: the final AMRC charity dataset was ready to share with the Medical Research Council team for analysis. Once MRC had summarised all the main findings from AMRC members and other public funders the Health Research Analysis Forum, of which AMRC is a member, helped to finesse it.

Good things come to those who wait 

The Medical Research Council team set their sights on publishing the report in Summer 2019. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, with the largest dataset yet and an impromptu General Election the publication date was pushed back to 28 January 2020. But the resulting report and accompanying dataset was well worth the wait! It is the most comprehensive view of public and charitable health research funding in the UK, consisting of more than 22,500 health and biomedical research active awards from 146 organisations.

Our team couldn’t wait to make use of the dataset! So, in the very same week, we developed an infographic to show the unique role our members play in the UK’s health research landscape. Our members provide the largest proportion of public funding for multiple stages of the research process and they account for the highest percentage of research spend in cancer, cardiovascular, inflammatory and immune health areas.

The beauty of this report and dataset is that it can be used to inform a range of activities: from identifying potential collaborators, to shaping new research priorities to highlighting research gaps. We've already seen some great examples of this from our members MQ: Transforming mental health and Marie Curie. It’s a fantastic resource that we encourage all our member charities to use. And when you do, don’t forget to let us know!