Barbara van der Linden
Senior staff member Knowledge Transfer and Implementation
Projects funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) must have impact. This is our task. New knowledge and expertise must be used in practice, policy, education and/or further research. This ensures that healthcare remains good, accessible and affordable. But what is impact? How do you achieve it? And how do you demonstrate it? ZonMw actively tackles these questions and supports project managers in strengthening their impact.
Everyone defines impact differently. At ZonMw we define impact as being knowledge utilisation – the use of the results of projects and programmes by people in the field, policymakers, educators and/or researchers. In this way, ZonMw contributes towards better health and healthcare, which is in line with the nature and scope of the organisation’s task and responsibility.
With the ‘route to knowledge utilisation’, we show how ZonMw works on impact across the full range of the knowledge chain, from fundamental research to implementation projects. There are three core elements to this route: the check on relevance and quality (we call these ‘fostering responsible research practices’); the focus on 4 factors that increase the chance of utilisation (we call this ‘productive interactions’); and describing the path from knowledge development to knowledge utilisation (we call this ‘impact pathway’). Knowledge utilisation is not a final destination: it is central to all phases of research and can therefore occur at various moments.
We want the results of programmes and projects to be used. To achieve this, we encourage and facilitate project managers in several ways. Examples are the targeted funding of dissemination and implementation or pooling knowledge of what does and does not work. In addition, we have implementation specialists in-house who can help in achieving impact. All these activities are brought together in ZonMw’s implementation policy. You can find more information on the page about achieving impact.
How can you show how you are working on impact? How do we monitor and evaluate impact? ZonMw’s working method is summarised in the ZonMw Impact Assessment Framework. There is further information about this and about the three core elements on the page about demonstrating impact. It also includes a manual for applicants and project managers.
ZonMw promotes innovation of and in health research and innovation in healthcare. We do this both in the Netherlands and at the international level together with other funding bodies. You can find more information on this topic on the page about innovation in research practice.