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This report describes a review of the BRU scheme, undertaken for the Department of Health. This review was a perceptions audit of senior executives involved in the scheme, and explored what impact they felt the scheme is having on the translational research landscape. More specifically, we investigated whether and how institutional relationships between NHS and academic partners, industry and other health research system players are changing because of the scheme; how the scheme is helping build critical mass in specific priority disease areas; and the effects of any changes on efforts to deliver the broader goals set out in Best Research for Best Health. The views presented in this report are those of study informants only. The information obtained through our interviews suggests that the BRU scheme is significantly helping shape the health research system to pursue translational research and innovation, with the clear goal of realising patient benefit. The BRUs are already contributing to observable changes in institutional relationships between the NHS and academic partners: trusts and medical schools are collaborating more closely than in the past, have signed up to the same vision of translational research from bench to bedside, and are managing and governing targeted research resources more professionally and transparently than in the past. There is also a stronger emphasis on engaging industry and more strategic thinking about strengthening regional and national collaboration with other hospital trusts, PCTs, research organisations, networks and development agencies. The scheme is also transforming capacity building in the health research system. This includes (i) developing and modernising facilities and equipment for translation; (ii) building a critical mass of human resources through recruitment and training, as well as improving retention of existing expertise; and (iii) helping ensure a steady flow of funds needed to sustain research activity and accelerate movement through the innovation pipeline. A number of centres are also trying to recreate the BRU model in new disease areas, with their own resources.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    The BRU review context

  • Chapter Two

    Collaboration dynamics: changes in relationships between the NHS, academia, industry and other players

  • Chapter Three

    The impact of the BRU scheme on capacity-building

  • Chapter Four

    The impact of BRUs on resource targeting, management and governance

  • Chapter Five

    Contributing to Best Research for Best Health now and in the future

  • Appendix

    Appendix of tables

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Department of Health and conducted by RAND Europe.

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