There is no impact without stakeholders

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To create impact and innovation, all societal actors should work together during the whole research process in order to align outcomes with the needs and expectations of society. To achieve this, it is important to include diverse voices to represent multiple societal stakeholders and making research results beneficial for a wider community.

A stakeholder is any person or party that has a stake in your project, meaning that can positively or negatively affect the output of your project. Stakeholders can be internal or external to the scientific community. Ideally, you should involve them from the beginning, when you start building and writing your project. They are the skeleton of your project and you cannot think of running your project without involving them.

Identify the impact

If you have identified the impact of your project, it will be easier for you now to select the stakeholders who will benefit from your project. Remember that there is no impact without stakeholders.

Here are some questions that will help you identify the stakeholders and their influence in your research.

  • Which groups have a stake, are part of the impact?
  • Who will experience changes because of the impact of your project?
  • What aspects of your research are they likely to be interested in?
  • What level of influence do they have to generate impact?


Think about patients, clinicians, the wider scientific community, the healthcare system, policy advisors and makers, industry, the wider society. To understand whether the output of your project meets the need of your stakeholders to reach the expected impact.

  • Which input will the stakeholders need?
  • Do your results lead to each of your intended impacts?
  • Do your results match the needs of each stakeholder?

Stakeholders useful from the beginning

You can save time and money by including the right stakeholders from the beginning. If you include the right stakeholders from the beginning, they will help you develop a realistic budget according to the project thanks to their specific expertise; e.g. a clinician might know the budget needed for clinical trials or a communication company might very well know how much a communication campaign costs. Also, if you listen to the right stakeholders, you will take into account their needs and develop products according to that. If you take these into account, you will not have surprises at the end of the project. If you miss any key stakeholder, your project will be affected: either you will have to spend more money than budgeted in the beginning or you will not reach the intended impacts of your research.
Be wise and be inclusive by building a diverse team; listen to all the societal actors who have an interest in your project.

If you need support identifying the stakeholders of your research project, please do not hesitate to contact us at researchsupport@umcg.nl.