The past few years have been rife with challenges, but those challenges have also led to tremendous opportunities for research teams. From expediting research to get a COVID-19 vaccine to market quickly, to exploring new ways of working during and after the pandemic crisis, and much more. We have all been through the gauntlet, and now, as we look ahead to 2023, many research teams are asking: What’s next?

Prediction 1: Increase in research grants and proposals 

The world needs more research and innovation, and that’s exactly what we will get this year. The 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill offers significant funding for research, among other categories. A few of the funding highlights from the bill include: 

  • $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support innovation in new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures.
  • $613 million domestically and $6.725 billion globally to support initiatives to eradicate HIV/AIDS. 
  • $3.3 billion for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to support “advanced research and countermeasures for pandemic threats” and strengthen our access to life-saving medical supplies. 

Several global research organizations have already reported increased funding in research projects headed into 2023. The National Cancer Institute, for example, will reportedly receive $150 million. Higher Education research programs also report various levels of increased research funding, highlighting strength in the industry across many different types of research. 

This year, we can expect research teams to innovate and deliver new or expanded research that will advance health, science, technology, and social and environmental efforts. 

Prediction 2: Continued resource constraints, leading to more creative solutions 

Research teams are all-too-familiar with the pinch associated with resource constraints, whether from staffing turnover, tightening budgets, or other factors. The pandemic exacerbated the strain on resources, leading teams to get creative to ensure research activities stayed on time and on budget. Although the pandemic crisis has subsided, many teams are still experiencing high workloads, limited time, and other constraints. 

To better understand the current state of research administration, we asked more than 1,000 research professionals to share their insights and experiences, as well as predictions for the future. A vast majority (84%) of participants noted that their workload had increased, with 54% noting that the increase was significant. One participant’s institution saw a “Net 40% activity (proposals and awards) growth over three years, despite a 20% budget reduction.” Another respondent highlighted “projects in process right now that we expect to ramp up significantly in the coming months as we get into implementation, as well as another system that is going to be required to be used across campus at roughly the same time,” adding that they “expect to be very busy in the next 6-9 months.” 

As the economy faces significant headwinds in 2023, many organizations are looking closely at their budget and resource allocations. We expect to see research teams assess existing systems and workflows to identify opportunities for improvement and invest in more strategic resources, including advanced technology solutions, to free up staffing resources to focus on more strategic initiatives. 

“Cayuse catches every error. We love it. Before, we were using tools that didn’t have error-checking. Things happen really fast and can get missed, so Cayuse helps.”

Amanda Breeden, Director of Sponsored Programs and Research at Denver Health

Prediction 3: Rise of a digital-first mindset across the research continuum 

Rapid innovation has gripped the research community, offering advanced technology solutions to reduce administrative burden, improve collaboration, enhance visibility and transparency, and improve research outcomes (among other benefits). Despite the obvious benefits and accessibility to data, many research teams are still bound by legacy or disparate systems. These systems not only create silos of information within the research lifecycle, but they can also significantly slow down processes or even lead to unnecessary errors. 

As research teams progress in 2023, we predict a rise in digital-first mindsets that factor technology into the research continuum from the first step through completion and commercialization. Individuals are increasingly more comfortable with technology, which lowers the barrier to new technology. Further, more research teams are sharing their success stories with advanced eRA technology. For example, NYU Abu Dhabi reported improving the efficiency of their internal funding competitions and proposals by 50%. Denver Health also noted a significant reduction in proposal errors. Amanda Breeden, Director of Sponsored Programs and Research at Denver Health shared, “Cayuse catches every error. We love it. Before, we were using tools that didn’t have error-checking. Things happen really fast and can get missed, so Cayuse helps.”

Prediction 4: Increased investment in advanced technology to support research activities 

Research teams will continue to invest in advanced technology to support activities across the research lifecycle. According to our 2022 benchmark report, 37% of respondents are currently using cloud-based solutions. A vast majority, nearly 80%, indicated a preference for one primary solution, like the Cayuse Research Suite, to support all research administration activities. As research organizations aim to optimize existing resources and even scale in the new year, they need a solution that enables them to gain a comprehensive view of activities and collaborate seamlessly across domestic and global teams. Investing in new technology was indicated as a top priority for many research organizations this year, according to survey data. 

As workloads increase and resources become more scarce, the need for automation and digital solutions will increase. Teams must find ways to improve efficiencies and insights that will fuel their research programs and lead to better outcomes. The key is investing in the right technology to support your needs and integrate with existing systems for a seamless experience. As we move further into 2023, we expect to see research teams evaluate their current systems and invest in new technology to either fill gaps or completely revamp their existing processes.

Prediction 5: Regulatory requirements and added pressures will drive innovation 

Understanding and abiding by regulatory requirements is a necessary challenge in the research world, not to mention the importance of keeping up with changes to these requirements. The risk of non-compliance is not only costly from a financial standpoint, but it also can be damaging to an organization’s reputation, and when promoting advances in research, reputation is an important factor for any organization. 

Just this past year, several new or updated regulations made headlines: 

  • FDA Proposed Rule published in September 2022 to “harmonize certain sections of FDA’s regulations on human subject protection and institutional review boards (IRBs), to the extent practicable and consistent with other statutory provisions, with the revised Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (the revised Common Rule), in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act).”
  • The Australian government announced a new program to reform clinical trials: “We propose that certain invasive or implantable medical devices that have not previously been used or studied in people would be required to obtain TGA approval through the CTA pathway – the CTN would not be an available option.”
  • New EU Clinical Trials regulations that are expected to be fully implemented by 2025: “The goal of the new EU Clinical Trials Regulation is to streamline the clinical trial process so Europe becomes a more competitive destination for clinical trials, without sacrificing participant safety or data accuracy.”

These regulatory updates are just a few examples of the many requirements, regulations, and guidelines that research teams must remain aware of and in compliance with. However, for teams using primarily manual systems and/or otherwise resource-constrained, the likelihood that an update is missed or an error is introduced increases tremendously.

Research teams will need to leverage advanced technology solutions to help ease the burden and allow teams to ensure compliance at every stage. 

A great example comes from Michael Leary, Director of Research and Compliance at Lindenwood University, “Our institution is expanding into greater-than-minimal risk work and emerging fields. As our research profile became more complex, we needed a cloud-based system that we could edit and update as our research programs grow… Before Cayuse, our review times were about 50% longer, and things would get stuck. We can now turn around exempt studies in three days, even 24 hours sometimes. Our review times are below the national average.”

Technology is the common thread in 2023

As we explore the opportunities that lie ahead in 2023, a common theme emerges: the need for advanced technology. Research teams will continue to experience staffing challenges and resource constraints on their path to innovation and research program growth. Trying to achieve their goals while still leveraging outdated, manual, or dissipate systems will dampen progress. The key will be investing in the right cloud-based eRA solution. 

At Cayuse, our research suite is purpose-built for today’s global research teams. We understand your unique needs because many of our team members have been your peers at one point or another. This level of intimacy with the research lifecycle and our commitment to innovation and excellence sets us apart from the crowd. To see what Cayuse can do for your team, simply request a demo