Does a restaurant count as research impact?

I am currently pondering this question. UK Universities are assessed by the UK government in many ways. One of which is via the “impact” of our research, defined as being “An effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.”. At the University of Manchester, Andre Geim and Constantin Novosolev won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, for their pioneering research on graphene – a hi-tech material made of incredibly thin chicken-wire-like arrangements of carbon atoms.

Graphene research is very topical — as a material it is has a number of very impressive properties. This I knew, but today I was about halfway through a moderately rude review of a Manchester restaurant called Grafene, before it dawned on me that the name was a deliberate misspelling of the name of the material. Indeed, on Grafene’s website it proudly declares that the restaurant is  “inspired by the world’s first 2D material Graphene, first isolated at Manchester University and the focus of global scientific and research investment.”

Grafene is a restaurant inspired by a hi-tech material, not something I have come across before. Maybe it will catch on and they will open sister restaurants called Gore-Tex, Neoprene, Gorilla Glass, etc, or maybe one catering to the trend for palaeolithic food, and call it Flint.

Returning to the question of “impact”, the definition of impact is very broad and so presumably a restaurant falls within it. Perhaps at the next round of UK government assessment, the University of Manchester will gain points for this. To evaluate this “impact” all the assessors would need to do is make a reservation. Assessing is often a thankless task, but this restaurant could be a perk.


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