I opened Impact 2016 this
morning by encouraging researchers to live up to our 70th
anniversary values of curiosity and insight and to commit yourselves to helping
to change the world, if only one question at a time.
This follows on directly from
the opening challenge set by Unilever’s Paul
Polman last year – research
is a force for social and commercial good, we can give people a real voice to
power, whether political or business, and we can do something to make a
Unilever, our Platinum sponsor
this year, have responded to that challenge by supporting the Force for Good
and Creativity and Innovation strands which will take place over the next two
Back in 1946, when what would
become MRS met for the very first time at Chez Auguste (pictured) on Old Compton Street in
Soho, I wonder if our founders dared to contemplate the impact the industry
they were creating would one day have. Given that they thought the right size for our organisation was 25
members but rather loftily only deemed 23 people suitable suggests not!
70 years later, thanks to the hard
work and support of PricewaterhouseCoopers, we are pleased to announce the
headline results of a new report, The Business
of Evidence 2016, which shows that our sector now has a collective value of
£4.8billion, a growth of 62% on our first report in 2012.
With an estimated export value of £1.7billion, the report puts our sector ahead
of many of the creative services – including audio-visual.
The growth comes from a number
of sources, primarily data analytics, but there has also been a clear growth to
match this in qualitative research.
I would also like to take this
opportunity to announce an important new collaboration with Twitter. The MRS Award
for Social Media Research, which they have initiated and will sponsor, will
open for entries for the first time in May. This award reflects the increased
importance of social media in research, a theme we have reflected in our joint
programme with the IPA called Social Works.
I hope those of you at Impact
2016 enjoy the strong line up of speakers and case studies ahead of you. Those
of you who could not join us can follow along on Twitter via #MRSlive. Wherever
you are, remember you are the people who can shape our sectors’ future.