A recent study by Technopolis and Diamond estimates a cumulative monetised impact of at least £1.8 billion from the UK’s synchrotron, Diamond Light Source, reflecting very favourably with the £1.2 billion investment made in the facility to date. The study, published on 26 May, set out to measure and demonstrate Diamond’s scientific, technological, societal, and economic benefits.
Chief Executive of Diamond, Professor Andrew Harrison OBE, comments; “Diamond’s mission is to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. We do this by providing our users in academia and industry access to our state-of-the-art facilities enabling them to fulfil their research goals across a wide variety of scientific disciplines. This report illustrates the fantastic return on investment and brilliant science being achieved by our 14,000-strong user community, who are tackling some of the most challenging scientific questions of the 21st century. We are so grateful to our funding agencies UKRI’s STFC and the Wellcome for their trust and ongoing support.”
Diamond was set-up as an independent not for profit company through a joint venture, between the UKRI’s Science and Technology Facilities Council and one of the world’s largest biomedical charities, the Wellcome Trust – each respectively owning 86% and 14% of the shareholding. Highlights from the report include:
- Research Output – 9,600 articles, resulting in a cumulative impact to date of £677 million in terms of the production of research output – based on the opportunity cost of time spent developing publications based on data collected on the facility’s instruments and assuming that the wage of researchers reflects the values of their time to society.
- Patents – collectively valued at £10.2 billion (in 2018 prices). The exact criticality of Diamond in each case is unknown – but some proportion of this considerable sum can be ‘claimed’ by Diamond. A conservative estimate is around 1%, meaning Diamond’s contribution could be worth at least £103 million.
- The study also developed 28 case-studies of breakthrough science achieved at Diamond from the plastic degrading enzyme to the new synthetic vaccine against the Foot-and-Mouth disease virus, as well as academic and industrial use of Diamond, and suppliers of the facility.
- Software and applications – An estimated £51.3 million valuation for the software and applications produced at Diamond.
- Training – £8.8 million in training provided through Diamond (for free), based on 19,191 days of training across 7,668 attendees in the past five years and commercial rates for similar courses.
- Wider Societal Benefits – 80,000 visitors reached to date through a programme of engagement supporting the UK Skills’ agenda in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Plus, increased awareness of the value of STEM subjects to everyday lives through many news articles and outreach activities.
Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC, said: “Diamond is an asset to STFC’s world-leading science estate at RAL. With support from STFC, the Diamond research facility continues to deliver both economic growth and research impact on behalf of the UK. It brings together the best of British science, as well as fostering multi-disciplinary research activity with a wide range of global collaborators. Diamond continues to deliver against real-world challenges, with some of their recent successes including enhancing our understanding of the Covid-19 virus.”
Tom Collins, Acting Head of Genetics and Molecular Sciences at Wellcome, says: “Diamond has delivered world-leading scientific advances through the innovation and excellence of the people who built and operate the synchrotron, in collaboration with the UK’s scientific community. The report highlights the real-world impact of Diamond’s leading research and the continued efforts that it makes to engage the wider public, complementing Wellcome’s mission to solve the most urgent health challenges facing everyone.”