Cúram seeks to bridge the gap between medtech research and policy

26 Sep 2022

From left: Denis Naughten, TD; Leonora Harty of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; University of Galway research and innovation VP Prof Jim Livesey; Cúram scientific director Prof Abhay Pandit; and white paper authors Dr Brendan Dolan and Dr Caroline McGregor. Image: Aengus McMahon

The research centre is calling for more training support for medtech researchers, greater awareness of the policymaking process and new networking opportunities.

Cúram, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for medical devices, has launched a white paper exploring how researchers in this sector can engage better with policymakers.

Key recommendations from the white paper include more training support for researchers in communicating with policy audiences and raising awareness of the policymaking process.

It also recommended more networking and knowledge exchange opportunities for researchers and policy figures such as politicians, civil servants and funders.

Cúram said lessons were taken from other fields that are “more established” in connecting research to policy, such as environmental and social sciences.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Brendan Dolan, said looking at these other fields was one of the “underlying drivers” when developing the paper. “To this end, the project’s interdisciplinary nature has proven incredibly beneficial,” Dolan added.

The white paper was developed through a collaboration between Cúram and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at University of Galway.

The paper was launched at a public event called Pathways to Policy. This brought researchers and policymakers together for keynote talks and a panel discussion on more effective research-policy interactions.

“We see science advocacy as active support of science, technology, engineering and maths, with researchers directly informing policy audiences about their research and engaging with the policymaking process,” Dolan said.

University of Galway president Prof Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh added that it is important that researchers are “empowered” to have a positive policy impact on society.

“True to our values of openness and excellence, our researchers will continue to break down barriers and connect with non-academic audiences so we can help create a better informed and engaged society,” Ó hÓgartaigh said.

Cúram scientific director Prof Abhay Pandit said the timing of the paper is “crucial”, as the Irish Government has put a greater focus on bridging research and policy through its Impact 2030 strategy.

“As researchers, we are responsible for advocating our work, ensuring continued support and ultimately increasing the impact value for patients,” Pandit said.

“An essential step in this process is educating our researchers on how to communicate their research to policymakers effectively.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic