The research translation journey: Turning theory into real-world impact

The research translation journey: Turning theory into real-world impact

A new book published in the framework of OpenInnoTrain – a European Union-funded project – reflects upon the project’s activities and findings to provide practical guidance to convert research outcomes into outputs which benefit society.

Key findings

  • Unexploited university research combined with the market knowledge of industry has the potential to unleash innovation
  • Planning and communication are key to achieve research translation
  • Incorporation of stakeholder engagement in the research journey can pave the way for the societal acceptance of novel ideas and breakthrough technologies
  • Research impact rarely occurs naturally and needs to be consciously incorporated and measured at all stages of project planning  

The OpenInnoTrain project looks at how research can achieve real-world impact, by converting novel concepts and theory into positive changes and solutions that can help everyday people. 

The project focuses on open innovation as a means to succeed in this research translation journey to ensure that concepts are transformed into innovative ideas that address real societal needs and challenges.

To do so, improved cooperation between university and industry is vital, and a new book by the European Union-funded project OpenInnoTrain aims to equip researchers and practitioners with the practical knowledge to support their collaborative journey.

Edited by Professor Anne-Laure Mention, Director of RMIT’s Global Business Innovation Enabling Capability Platform, and Dr Massimo Menichinelli, Research Fellow at RMIT EuropeFrom Research to Innovation: Exploring the Translation Journey with OpenInnoTrain reflects on the project’s learnings during its first two years of implementation. 

Featuring scholarly publications and brand-new content, the book identifies tools and mechanisms to shape and prepare any project to achieve research impact and translation, based upon investigations in four contemporary sectors – FinTech, CleanTech, FoodTech and Industry 4.0.

Training activities, in particular international and intersectoral secondments, are a key component of the project and the book features reflections of the secondee experience, and how first-hand interactions and working with industry can lead to new discoveries, initiatives and collaborations. 

According to secondees, the exchange of ideas, insights, knowledge, and discussions – sometimes even beyond one’s own discipline – can help to identify crossovers between research activities and the reality of what is required by society.

Working hand-in-hand with industry can be key to turning research findings into positive, innovative and tangible outcomes for the good of everyday people, such as new or improved products or breakthrough technologies.

Besides industry collaboration, such impact can also be strategically incorporated into research project planning and the five stages – scoping, identifying, mapping, engaging and tracking – were the topic of the OpenInnoTrain’s first summer school, reflections of which are also covered in the new publication. 

Over five days, leading researchers and industry experts discussed the tools and methods available to build an impact framework, such as engagement mapping canvasses, and how to measure performance to refine the strategy.

“No matter the stage of their career, this new book guides researchers as they embark upon the path to research impact and translation,” Mention said.  

“For industry professionals, it provides practical guidance on how to tap into the potential of what is taking place in the world of research.

“With this book, we hope to improve industry-university collaboration and see more exciting and transformative innovation for real world impact.”

The online launch of From Research to Innovation: Exploring the Translation Journey with OpenInnoTrain will take place on Thursday 25 November 2021, 3-6pm CET. Registrations are now open through Eventbrite.

The book is available to download from the OpenInnoTrain website.


Story: Hannah Tribe

OpenInnoTrain has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 823971.


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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.