It is said that “measuring is knowing”. But with complex and dynamic initiatives like the JPI HDHL, measuring impact is a challenge. Nevertheless, in March 2020 the Technopolis Group set out to make a first assessment of the impact of JPI HDHL along three dimensions: 1) alignment of policy at the national and European level, 2) level of excellence in science, and 3) societal impact.
In 2020 the JPI had been active for about 10 years, with the first call being launched in 2013 and the first projects finishing in 2017. 10 years may sound like a long time, but the first years were spent on laying the groundwork, and building trust and understanding for further progress. The uptake of research outcomes into policy, healthcare, industry and further research can take many years. Therefore, the purpose of this excercise was to develop an evaluation framework and perform a first analysis of the impact. We are happy to report that this evaluation shows that the JPI has already reached some significant impacts in the first decade of its existence
Although alignment is especially difficult to measure, the evaluation found that the level of participation of member countries tends to be constant over time and members are more likely to increase research funding rather than decrease it, showing commitment to the work of the JPI HDHL. Regarding alignment with the research policy and activities of the European Commission, there are concrete examples of the JPI’s ability to influence agenda setting, such as the involvement of the JPI in the Fit4Food2030 CSA and the development of the Safe and Sustainable Food Systems Partnership. For a more in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of the JPI, a systematic comparison with other initiatives was recommended by the evaluators.
The bibliometric analysis revealed that JPI HDHL papers on the whole are excellent, and the level of multidisciplinarity is fairly high regarding the diversity of topics in the papers and co-authorship. A few JPI HDHL projects yielded new research communities. Further research could be undertaken to determine connections between different projects, how the connections evolve over time and whether collaboration continues outside the scope of the JPI HDHL.
In the end, this is what the JPI HDHL is all about: addressing societal challenges related to food, nutrition, health and physical activity. The evaluators concluded that the JPI HDHL has been active in disseminating outputs and building a community around its topics, although it is challenging to include non-academic partners in such activities. The uptake of research results is still limited, mainly because most projects ended relatively recently. Some projects are close to achieving interesting societal impacts such as the MaNuel Knowledge Hub. Overall, the diversity of the JPI HDHL portfolio allows for having both short term and longer term impacts.
This evaluation forms a starting point to keep monitoring our impacts, of which many more are expected in the years to come. The evaluation report has been discussed by the JPI HDHL Management Board and recommendations will be followed-up.
Text: JPI HDHL secretariat
Publication date: November 18, 2021