Researching the Research Process (What Drives an Effective Research Environment?)

Andy Parker, BuroHappold Engineering

The effectiveness of research environments is a complex issue and easily overlooked as being too difficult to assess, predict or optimise.

Each year universities and commercial organisations spend billions on research. How to spend the budget wisely is a key question. Whether to spend on people, equipment, capital projects for new refurb facilities, or investment in small start-up research firms.

Can a data driven approach facilitate these decisions on where to invest and ultimately improve predictability and success of the research outcomes?

Various studies on workplaces and labs have shown several factors that can impact on the quality and efficiency of working environment. The purpose of this study is to extend the study to provide a more holistic assessment of effectiveness of the research environment. This will include, besides the quality of the spaces and environment, the organisational structure and culture, communication patterns, types and diversity of people employed, and operational processes, to name a few. When incorporated into an interactive assessment tool benchmarked by big data one can analyse a diverse range of options for these and refine strategic, design and operational decisions that will maximise the intended outcomes.

In this presentation Andy will summarise current understanding of how such factors can influence effectiveness of research and present the strategic assessment tool to help research organisations understand where they stand and which parameters can be leveraged to maximise research effectiveness.

Learning Objectives

  • have an understanding of key factors (environment, organisational structure, communication patterns) that influence research effectiveness
  • gain an appreciation for how data to measure the factors affecting research effectiveness can be captured
  • have knowledge of the issues designers, owners and operators should consider when making strategic decisions and designing highly effective research buildings
  • have an appreciation of approaches to analyse and enhance the factors that contribute to research effectiveness in organisations and existing facilities


Andy is the Global Director for BuroHappold Engineering's Scientific and Technology sector. Andy has extensive scientific project experience from around the world. Having delivered scientific projects in the UK, Europe and the far east he has a knowledge of best practice from a wide variety of sources He has 25 years experience working in the design and delivery of complex buildings associated with chemical and pharmaceutical laboratories and GMP manufacturing facilities.


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