In defending impact statements, Dave Delpy, RCUK's "champion for economic impact", neatly destroys his own argument. If he believes that as a non-expert he "could write a statement indicating potential impact for any proposal", one wonders what its value would be.
He says that excellence will continue to be the main criterion for funding, but money is tight, so imagine the impact statements for two grant applications of similar excellence: one convincingly predicts economic utility, reflecting the original purpose of the study; the other is speculative and contrived, written for the sake of completing the form.
If the impact statements are taken into account, the former will be funded and the latter will not. The former, of course, is applied research and the latter is blue-skies. The difference is obvious to any researcher, but Delpy doesn't seem to get it.
Martin Luck, Associate professor of animal physiology University of Nottingham.