Which is the impact of an economic action or a research activity? Which are the returns in terms of social or economic benefits that such processes can produce?
To reply to these questions, Impact Assessment is becoming a major asset for companies’ processes as well as for research activities. According to the definition provided by the International Association for Impact Assessment, “Impact Assessment (IA) simply defined is the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action. The “impact” is the difference between what would happen with the action and what would happen without it”.
According to the T6 framework, the implementation of the impact assessment is twofold. From one hand, IA is implemented by T6 for project management’s aims for private and public subjects that want to improve their routines and foster their impact; from the other hand, T6 develops IA strategies to support research scopes creating ad-hoc methodologies to analyse the impact of innovations and research results.
Regarding the use for project management, IA provides an on-going evaluation and self-evaluation framework allowing clarifying and fine-tuning work flows and expected outputs, identifying relevant actors for each action and preventing risks. The aim is to provide a self-assessment process ensuring the monitoring and the common understanding of the expected results between all the actors engaged in the process. The common understanding is reached through regular updating to the consortiums, offering a useful tool towards the maximization of those impacts while ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability and, when appropriate, to enable the full valorisation of the project market potential. To summarize, the final goal of the assessment activities is to monitor the project life cycle and assess its expected impacts to reach successful results.
Regarding the application of IA in research activities, T6 has a longstanding experience acquired in the last years through the development of advanced qualitative (ethnography, in- depth interviews, focus groups, Delphi, etc.) and quantitative (longitudinal survey, multivariate analysis, social network analysis, etc.) methodologies to analyse the impact of innovations and research results. The impact assessment approach developed by T6 makes use of the impact value chain approach analysing project inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts, and it supports the identification of the value proposition of the project, its expected impacts and eventual obstacles to the full achievement of them.
The T6’s methodology, though a highly participatory approach, maps, describes, quantifies and orients the socio-economic impacts generated by a given research projects. Analysing the economic, social, political and environmental impact of European research projects it is possible to have a strong personalisation of assessment tool and a deep analysis of the state of the art as well as valuable inputs for the development of a comprehensive dissemination and exploitation strategy for the project’s results.
For this reason, the T6 methodology can be easily adapted to the impact assessment of new technological solutions and scientific results and has been successfully tested in international projects funded within the European Commission framework Programs and H2020 (e.g. SEQUOIA, ERINA+, IA4SI, TASCMAR, SecInCoRe).