How to Maximize the Return on Your Research Investment


When we commit to showing our grant funding success, we empower our teams, our potential, and our society at large. Here’s what you need to know to maximize your research ROI.

ROI is more than a buzzword. It’s a commitment to tracking, understanding, and optimizing how you show the impact of your efforts. And ultimately, that means more investment, more research, and improved overall outcomes for societies and individuals across the globe.

Let’s begin with the basics: What is ROI?

Return On Investment is a broad and often misinterpreted term—but it doesn’t have to be that way. By simplifying the way we think about it, and evaluating some key metrics and signals at our fingertips, we can get much closer to understanding how the investment we’re putting into scientific research is turning into valuable, meaningful outcomes.


In the simplest sense, ROI is generally defined as the ratio of net profit over the total cost of the investment. But when we get into a bit more detail, there’s lots more to track and be aware of when it comes to understanding our impact.

Beyond calculating the ratio of cost to profit, we can look at our return on research investment from a few other key angles:

• Risk Mitigation
How much did our research efforts reduce the likelihood of potential related risks or future negative outcomes?

• Cost Reduction
How much did our research efforts reduce potential future costs of research or future phases of our objectives?

• Cost Savings (Internal vs Outsourced Research)
How much did our research efforts allow our internal or partner teams to focus more on other efforts while empowering research grantees to focus on what they do best?

• Opportunity & Risk Quantification
What did our research efforts teach us about potential future research opportunities or related risks?

• Time Savings
How much time did our research efforts save us in terms of broader process refinements or future efficiencies?

• Overall Research Portfolio
How much did our research efforts contribute to our broader overall suite of research outcomes? How can we correlate parallel research efforts against one another to compound our success?

So what’s the point of tracking these types of metrics? What does this bring us?


First, when we take the time to review and assess our return on research investment, we can increase credibility—not only with senior management and other functional leads but beyond to other funders and partner entities.


Second, we can take a thoughtful look at which of our funding and research activities are driving the most economic value. This isn’t the only measure of success, but it’s certainly a motivating one. We can also build ammunition for future funding proposals and opportunities, demonstrating effective arguments for defending the research budget.


And third, by staying clear on our return on investment, we can further optimize going forward, putting more into projects and initiatives that are driving value, and tailoring or adjusting our investment on initiatives that are showing fewer returns.

So what pitfalls should we keep in mind? Where can research investment fail? Let’s break down some of the most common concerns and strategies:

• Not Enough Why
We should take the time to get specific about why we’re embarking on a particular investment. What could this mean for our team? What could this mean for society? What could this mean for future research initiatives?

• Not Enough Focus
We should narrow our objectives and goals to be focused enough in order to demonstrate value.

• Not Enough Clarity
We should be specific and straightforward when it comes to what we’re hoping to achieve and how we plan to do it.

• Not Enough Strategy
We should be thoughtful and intentional in designing timelines and setting expectations. Research outcomes can sometimes take years to show results. That doesn’t mean we should shortchange these longer-term investments, but we should aim to establish those expectations early on as a guidepost.

• Not Enough Transparency
And lastly, we should consistently communicate all of this to all the right stakeholders, not just after the fact, but from the onset.

How to Run A Research Grant Program

See More Insights.

For more information on how to optimize for some of these common challenges, check out our eBook, “How to Run a Research Grant Program.”

Read More

So how can we maximize our return on investment? How can we navigate the pitfalls and optimize results?

That’s where Altum comes in. ProposalCentral is Altum’s flagship grants management platform, helping organizations unlock the full potential of their funding efforts and deliver outcomes that benefit humanity faster.

A few of the countless benefits include streamlined workflows and AI-based decision support tools, trend analysis and connection synthesis across nearly 200 million data points, unmatched visibility into outcomes and impact, clear reporting, and effortless ecosystem-wide collaboration.

For more information about ProposalCentral’s most valuable capabilities, visit the product overview page on our website.

Explore ProposalCentral.

For more information about ProposalCentral’s most valuable capabilities, visit the product overview page on our website.

Learn More

Visit Altum Insights.

Looking for even more detail? Our Altum Insights product delivers deep text search and visualization to see the connections and impacts of grants and awardees across the whole lifecycle.

Visit Insights

Let’s Recap

Return on investment is often thought of strictly in financial terms. But as we’ve seen, ROI is a much broader construct. This is about quantifiable business impacts. And ultimately, it’s about clearly highlighting the results that matter most to your team.

Effectively evaluating and demonstrating ROI means more future investment. It means more research. And ultimately, it means more impact. With Altum’s powerful suite of solutions at your fingertips, showcasing this impact has never been easier.


How Grantmakers Can Better Assess Impact

Read More
How to Run A Research Grant Program

How to Run a Research Grant Program

Read More
How to Find the Best Researchers Article Feature Image Research Team at Work

How to Find the Best Researchers

Read More
Translate »