Living Mapping Review for COVID-19 funded research projects: Final update captures data from 20,000 projects and lays the foundation to build a powerful new research funding tracker

Wellcome Open Research published the tenth update of the Living Mapping Review (LMR) of COVID-19 funded research projects on July 26, 2023. This 10th iteration marks the final output of the LMR, which has been updated continuously since September 2020 based on data from the COVID-19 Research Project Tracker by UKCDR and GloPID-R.

“We submitted the first iteration of this publication three years ago, and it has been a truly global collaborative effort throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Alice Norton, Head of the GloPID-R Research & Policy Team. To accompany the culmination of the LMR, Wellcome Open Research published a blog article featuring an exchange between Alice Norton and Adrian Bucher, Senior Data Analyst at UKCDR. In it, they discuss how the LMR project unfolded and the importance of tools to track research funding during global health crises like COVID-19 to facilitate global collaboration and solidarity amongst research funders.

The Living Mapping Review of COVID-19 funded research projects has provided valuable information and analysis for the international community of researchers and funders, allowing them to channel resources to underfunded areas where research needs are greatest, while highlighting opportunities for strategic collaboration. “We have shown the importance of tracking research at the point of funding for global coordination in a fast-moving research environment such as a pandemic,” said Alice Norton.

This tenth version is based on data in the tracker as of October 15, 2022. The final analysis and figures cover 20,006 projects funded by 351 funders, taking place across 157 countries representing an investment of at least $7.4 billion. The LMR review papers were published between September 8, 2020, and July 26, 2023.

Continuing to harness the power of tracking research funding in real-time

The achievements and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 Research Project Tracker form the foundation of the new Pandemic Analytical Capacity and Funding Tracking Programme (Pandmic PACT). “This work will continue through Pandemic PACT,” added Alice Norton, Principal Investigator of the programme. She and her team are currently working to develop a more streamlined and functional funding tracking database and interactive tool, which is expected to be active by the end of 2023.

The challenge of fragmented research projects that are unable to achieve their aims demands that researchers and funders be much more strategic to effectively advance knowledge in the context of epidemics and pandemics. Strengthening collaboration of funding bodies to maximize the efficiency and impact of research funding during global health crises is the overriding aim shared by the Living Mapping Review and tracking tools like the COVID-19 Research Project Tracker and the upcoming PACT tracking tool.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.