date and time icon Thu, 09 Nov 2023

Impact of Scottish university research brought into focus by new reports

Research from Edinburgh Napier has been highlighted in a series of reports, which emphases the benefits that universities bring to Scotland.

Three studies, each published on Thursday, show how the impact of academic research in Scottish universities extend into the lives of people across the country, and in other parts of the world. Many of the projects involved have resulted applied solutions to real-world challenges, while the economic returns from research funding are also set out.

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Research creates the new knowledge and inventions that benefit everyone in the long run.

“Taken together, the three reports published today show compelling evidence of the wide-ranging impact of Scottish university research and what it is achieving for us here in Scotland as well as the huge contribution it makes to societies across the world.

“Crucially, the reports show us the importance of sustained investment and the opportunity we have to build on Scotland's exceptional research abilities to change lives, create prosperity and enrich communities."

In each, ENU has played a part with difference-making work.

Research case studies

RAND Europe’s analysis of material produced for the latest UK-wide assessment of university research found that Scottish universities were able to turn their research into local benefits in areas like education, health and the arts.

It also found that research carried out in Scottish universities was helping to diagnose disease, uphold human rights and preserve cultures in countries across the globe.

The study was based on Edinburgh Napier University’s research power and has been highlighted in a wide-ranging assessment of research quality in UK universities.

The activity at the submissions for Research Excellence Framework 2021, which assessed Edinburgh Napier as “internationally excellent” and “world-leading”, as well as placing it as the top Scottish modern for research impact.

The RAND Europe report mentions several ENU projects, including:

  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of implementing international legislation on human rights regarding mental health and cognitive disabilities
  • Continued investigation into natural ecosystems capable of capturing and storing carbon, leading to two conservation projects in Kenya
  • Research into solar radiation and methods for solar energy harvesting in buildings
  • A study into large-scale information-sharing architecture in health care
  • Analysis of industrialised timber technologies, which led to new practical industry applications
  • An investigation of the timber yield of Sitka spruce trees

Research Excellence Grant

In a collection of research case studies published by the Scottish Funding Council, the organisation illustrates how its Research Excellence Grant, worth just under £247m in the current academic year, plays a vital role in underpinning the overall research system.

Among the examples in the report are projects to improve heart health, support children with speech disorders and accelerate Scotland’s move to Net Zero.

Economic impact

An independent report from economic research specialists, the Fraser of Allander Institute, estimates that public investment channelled into research by the Scottish Funding Council supports almost 9,000 jobs and £590 million in sales of Scottish goods and services while contributing an annual £410 million to the Scottish economy.

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