Research funding: Our new approach

The new way of funding ideas and why we are doing it

“So what we call scientific knowledge today is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty. Some of them are most unsure; some of them are nearly sure; but none is absolutely certain” – Richard Feynman

2019 is an exciting year for research at our charity. After 2 years of careful thought and deliberations we have re-shaped our strategy and are looking forward to the future with an ambitious plan. Often, medical charities expect academic researchers to be more productive with their research and produce results that will immediately have an impact on patients’ lives. This is a reasonable expectation, because as a non-profit organisation, donations often arrive from individuals that either experience symptoms or are related to/know someone with a condition and hence the funds ought to go back to patients. To put it simply, they are after “immediate” and “soon to be available” solutions.

However, there are no quick fixes in academic research. Scientific research often involves findings that are not suited or are completely unexpected to what the researcher has originally proposed. Additionally, the course of a research project could change drastically throughout its path and lead to other findings. This uncertainty factor should be recognisable and celebrated by both researchers and funders, as uncertainty is often the path to new discoveries. Needless to say, when academic research delivers on its original hypothesis, there is good reason for celebration but this is very rare and measuring significant impact is very hard.

At Orthopaedic Research UK, we recognise the above complexities and have introduced two new streams of funding that could provide solutions for both the immediate and long-term demands of patients while protecting the scientific integrity of research. There is now an opportunity to fund entrepreneurs who have an idea that can be imagined and delivered in a shorter period as opposed to the long journey of academic research. These two funding streams, the academic (The ORUK Research Fund) and the start-up (The Ronald Furlong Fund), complement one another by valuing the importance of basic research and the knowledge that it creates and also by understanding that society has immediate needs and it is our duty as a charity to try and
accommodate for these as urgently as possible.

Our upcoming research will revolve around innovative and technology driven rehabilitation solutions for patients with musculoskeletal problems with a focus on joint replacements. There will be two streams of research funding in 2019:

1. The Ronald Furlong Fund (For proposals submitted by start-ups) – In collaboration with HS.
2. The ORUK Research Fund (For basic and translational research proposals submitted by academic

The closing date for expressions of interest is Thursday 28th February, 5pm.

For more information please visit the research section of our website.