Annual Impact Reports

Impact report 2016

Each year STFC’s Impact Report presents quantitative data and case study examples which illustrate the breadth and depth of our economic and societal impact.

The Impact Report 2016 showcases the UK’s role in supporting the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which detected gravitational waves for the very first time – one of the key scientific discoveries made in recent years.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

World-Class Research

  • Our frontier research in astronomy, particle physics and nuclear physics ranks first in the world measured by citation impact. We invested more than £160 million in 2015/16 in these areas, supporting a community of over 1,000 academics in 86 universities.
  • UK researchers played a major role in supporting the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which detected gravitational waves for the very first time, one of the key scientific discoveries made in recent years. The project was awarded a prize worth £2 million for extraordinary scientific achievement, and UK universities have been translating the technology from the project into areas such as stem cell technology and improved surgical safety.
  • Our UK facilities deliver considerable impact, some examples this year are; Diamond Light Source (Diamond) celebrated their 5000th publication whereby researchers published the discovery of a genetic trigger behind birth defects; ISIS supported the pharmaceutical industry in the delivery of more effective drugs and in the development of new antibiotics; and the Central Laser Facility (CLF) recently delivered a £10 million pulsed laser system, the most advanced high power laser of its kind in the world, for the HILASE research facility in Prague.

World-Class Innovation

  • The Harwell and Sci-Tech Daresbury Campuses currently host over 300 enterprises and support more than 6,000 jobs, creating the right conditions for high-tech SMEs to grow.
  • This year tenant companies at Sci-Tech Daresbury created over 87 jobs, attracted £15 million of investment (£181 million since 2010) and developed 98 new products (754 since 2010). Sci-Tech Daresbury Campus contributed an estimated £163 million gross GVA to the UK economy in 2014/15, and supported almost 2,000 jobs across the UK. When the Campus masterplan is fully realised, this could add £660 million to Sci-Tech Daresbury’s gross impact by 2040.
  • Between 2010 and 2016, over £100 million was invested into companies supported by STFC Business Incubation programmes and over 266 new jobs were created. In 2016 alone, companies have been developing 64 new products and services with 11 companies filing patents, firmly indicating the success of this unique incubation model.

World-Class Skills

  • We play a key role in attracting young people to follow STEM careers. Applications to university physics courses continue to rise and in 2015 physics applications increased by nearly 3% from the year before, up 32% between 2008 and 2015.
  • We invested £23.4 million in postgraduate training and fellowships in particle physics, nuclear physics and astronomy, including 229 new PhD studentships, bringing the current cohort to 766. Working in frontier science gives our students a range of transferrable skills applicable to both the research base and high-tech industries, for example in data-intensive science. 38% of STFC graduates move into industry, whilst 38% remain in a research post at university, and 8% get a post in the third sector, for example in a charity or not-for-profit organisation.
  • STFC’s apprenticeship scheme offers structured training to over 50 people in their early career. Whether it is engineering, computing and IT, or electrical and mechanical apprenticeships, a structured programme of training supports the apprentices in gaining qualifications, ranging from foundation degrees, to NVQ’s and HND’s.


Other examples from the Impact Report 2016 that show the extraordinary breadth of STFC’s impact on society and the UK economy include:

  • RAL Space playing a key role in the EU Copernicus earth observation system, expected to create 48,000 jobs and a £27 billion boost to Europe’s GDP by 2030;
  • MIRICO Ltd, an STFC spin-out, attracting a £1 million investment in its work adapting Mars exploration technology for commercial applications in environmental monitoring, detecting counterfeit foods and disease diagnostics;
  • Our national labs and university funded engagement programmes reaching 2 million members of the public and 295,000 students.


For more stories and statistics that demonstrate the value of our work to the UK and the world at large, please see the RCUK Impact Report presentation slides and our other publications in the series:

View the Impact Report 2012 and Impact Report 2011.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000