Impact: indispensable in a successful grant application
In addition to writing down the scientific excellence or technological innovation, a grant application requires you to describe the impact of the project. Why are you starting this project? What do you want to achieve? Why do you do what you do? Increasingly, however, the question is asked to describe in detail and even more concrete the path to this impact. Who do you want to reach? How will you reach this group? And who do you need to reach your goal?
How to determine the path to impact
For some projects, the ultimate goal and the intended impact are very similar. The development and validation of a prototype robotic arm that investigates how it works in an industrial environment will lead to impact in a relatively short period of time. After all, the moment the prototype works, it will go into production (economic impact) and it will be integrated on the shop floor and support the employees (social impact). In addition, the research itself will generate more knowledge (scientific and technological impact).
For other projects, the goal of a project is still far removed from the intended impact. Broadly speaking, every researcher and developer knows why he/she starts a project: “In the future, my research will lead to a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease”. Or “In 15 years, my development will contribute to a fully self-steering train”. Before the project can make its intended impact, many steps still need to be taken. A great deal of research and/or development is still required, and in order to take these steps, several parties are of influence. How do you ensure that the research you are currently conducting really leads to your future goal? What is the path to impact?
Every road is different
Of course, this path is unique for each project and certainly not equally clear for all projects. How do you determine which steps, assumptions and stakeholders are important in your path from project to impact? You can tackle this by discussing with your (consortium) partners what is needed for them to take the next step, what needs to change and who is crucial. It can be difficult to form a feasible plan with the diverse opinions of all stakeholders, both inside and outside the consortium. After all, each stakeholder thinks from their own perspective. By discussing the short and long term impact with all stakeholders and at each step asking yourself ‘who is crucial to achieve my goal and what assumptions do I make?’, you can shape the path from project to impact.
In recent years, we have gained a lot of experience in describing impact and would be happy to help you draw up your path to impact. Would you like to know more?