By Carol Bewick, Head of Member Engagement and Communications, AMRC

Published: 29 December 2017

Looking back on my first 12 months with AMRC, I can hardly believe how much has happened. So much has been achieved by our members, by our team, by all of us working together and making the most out of our expertise. In fact, so much has been achieved that when I was asked to do a blog about the year I realised I had written a book...

Which means, highlights it is! Initially it was my top 10 but even that was too much for a New Year read so I’ve limited myself to my personal top 5 highlights. I know that you will have your own favourites. Maybe these five will remind you of some of yours.

1. Shouting impact from the rooftops

This year we have looked at new ways of showing sector impact. Pulling together data from 40 members using Researchfish we were able to have an in depth look at just how much reach medical research charities have and what a difference you make.

To make that information usable and meaningful for everybody we broke the information down and presented it in a digital format. Supporting that with an animation showing the effect of the donor pound we provided tools to help share impact with policy makers and most importantly your supporters.

Spotlight Reports have become a regular feature, focusing on parts of the sector and looking at what you, our members, fund. Our first four shone a spotlight on  mental health, cancer, drug-resistant infection and healthcare technology. They have revealed some interesting facts and figures – with some amazing stories behind them. We’re looking forward to shining a spotlight on more areas during 2018.

2. Preparing to be Next Generation Charities

We followed up on last year’s stakeholder research to find out how prepared our members were for the future and what you are doing to make yourselves future focused. Our ‘On the Front Foot’ report published in July drew on interviews with 27 leading lights from across the sector and not only gave case studies and ideas of how and why change is necessary in today’s uncertain environment but also provided a scorecard, so charity boards and staff could assess readiness for the future. You are doing some incredibly innovative things to keep ahead of the game. Perhaps most importantly the report showed that patient centricity is key to being on the front foot.

3. Delving into Digital

We took our first real foray into digital health in February with our Delving into Digital event. Hosted at the Google offices, 90 of us got together to share inspiring examples of medical research charities using digital. It explored partnerships, patient-led tech developments, and shared examples from virtual reality, chatbots, hackathons and device regulation. It sparked off a thirst for more and we are looking forward to delving even deeper in early 2018. With a digital advisory group from across the membership to lead the way, we will be able to get some more great examples of things you are keen to know about, which we can share.

4. A Day in Westminster

November saw our first Day in Westminster with 40 CEOs from across the sector coming together for a series of meetings with Ministers, politicians and policy-makers. Hearing the power of the collective voice in action was something which will remain with us all over the coming months. There was something incredibly empowering about walking around Westminster and spotting member CEO’s deep in conversation with each other and with familiar Parliamentary faces. We laid the foundations by introducing the power of the medical research charity sector, why health must be considered in Brexit negotiations and our asks around data sharing, CRSF, and the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. Now that we have laid the foundations, the next event can get even further into what matters most to us.

5. Networks

After 30 years of representing and amplifying the sector voice, this year we decided to get to know more of you and for those we already know – get to know you even better. AMRC has so many networking opportunities where likeminded people from different charities can come together to share opinions, knowledge and news. You are probably part of one of our groups, maybe the research managers, or PAWG, or a CEO, or working to put patient voice centre stage. During 2017 we’ve introduced the new comms network, COMMSunity (see what we did there?), set up a digital advisory group to inform us on what you need from us around all things digital, developed a BREXIT task force of rapid responders, started a passionate HR network to name but a few. If you haven’t been involved in 2017, make it a New Year resolution to get to know colleagues from other charities – believe me it will be worth it.

On behalf of all my AMRC colleagues, thank you for a memorable year and we look forward to making more joint memories in 2018.