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Big Data approaches for improved monitoring of research and innovation performance and assessment of the societal IMPACT in the Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing Societal Challenge

Recent economic and societal developments created a strong demand for additional evidence on the performance of research and innovation (R&I) systems, as well as the societal impact they bring. However, this increased demand has not been met by the traditional R&I indicators, as data collection typically stopped at the end of research funding, while most results and impacts materialised in the medium- and long-term of the R&I lifecycle. Data4Impact was a H2020 research project funded by the European Commission which aimed to address this problem by capitalising on the latest technological developments in big data technologies and analytics (Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning).

In order to provide better R&I monitoring and impact assessment, Data4Impact combined large volumes of structured and unstructured data from different sources and applied its methodology on publicly-funded health research in EU member states over the course of the project. The first part of the Data4Impact project was dedicated to the establishment of an integrated conceptual framework building upon state-of-the-art in innovation research. We defined relevant input sources, identified data analysis workflows and integrated them into a common platform to enable visualisation and interrogation of project/funder quality indicators. Through its activities during the second reporting period, the project gathered the results produced across various Work Packages. A series of indicators were developed on the performance and societal impact of 40+ research programmes in the health domain. The comprehensive set of data and indicators combine publication, patent, company/innovation, clinical guidelines, project monitoring, as well as various social media/media and other types of online data.

Based on the novel set of indicators, the project developed an online analysis platform designed to better suit the needs of research funders, policymakers, researchers and the society at large. The Data4Impact Monitoring Platform integrates the results produced across various Work Packages and allows users to view interactive visualisations and download relevant indicators. The platform along with the Data4Impact methods and results have been successfully validated through a series of cross-cutting dissemination and awareness raising activities, including five highly successful workshops, conferences, meetings and interviews organised with the EC officials, national policymakers, funders, scientists and other stakeholders.