Measuring impact and societal value

The goal of this exploratory research project is to collect existing knowledge, generate new knowledge and formulate a research strategy for the evaluation of water research, with a specific focus on the impact and societal value of this research. The results will offer new insights into the field, including an analytical framework and metrics. This will give financiers insight into the extent to which investments contribute to impact and societal value. It will also indicate where the priorities for follow-up research lie.

Measuring value of water research

Water utilities increasingly embrace their societal responsibility to produce drinking water in a sustainable manner. KWR supports this mission by providing knowledge and innovation within the framework its Joint Research Programme with the water utilities. Impact and societal value can only be generated if this knowledge is applied by the water utilities in practice. It is in this context necessary to know the degree to which new knowledge and innovation is implemented, and with what results. Given the novel character of this subject, there are as yet no suitable methods and tools available for the task. This project will address this knowledge gap.

Methodological approach

This project intends, on the basis of a literature study, to provide a methodological approach – development of an analytical framework, methods and metrics – for the evaluation of water research. The focus will be placed specifically on impact and societal value and a research strategy for the evaluation of KWR’s biggest research enterprise: the Joint Research Programme. The scientific quality of the study will be reinforced and validated through a partnership with the Global Water Research Coalition (GWRC), in a joint project running until the end of 2021. This will involve defining the value of water research, and determining the methods and metrics for its measurement.

Effective definition of new priorities

The results of the project will contribute to the evaluation literature, which assists the primary users and financiers of water research, such as water utilities, in assessing how and where investments generate impact and societal value. This will allow for the effective definition of new priorities.