Nuclear data, describing neutron reaction probabilities (cross sections) and decay behaviour, are critical to the design and operation of fusion experiments and future fusion power plants. Equally vital, are the inventory codes that use the data to predict neutron-induced activation and transmutation of materials, which will define the radiological hazards that must be managed during reactor operation and decommissioning. Transmutation, including gas production, combined with the neutron-induced displacement damage, will also cause the properties of materials to degrade, for example through swelling and embrittlement, eventually limiting the lifetime of components. Thus validated and accurate nuclear data and inventory codes are essential. For data validation there are decay heat measurements performed at FNS in Japan more than 20 years ago. The experiments produced an invaluable database for benchmarking of nuclear data libraries; the latest versions of several international libraries perform well against this data during tests with the FISPACT-II inventory code, although there is still scope for improvement. A recent attempt to provide fusion-relevant validation based on \\\\(\\\\gamma\\\\)-spectroscopy data from neutron-irradiated material samples tests production predictions of short-lived (several hours or less) radionuclides. The detailed analysis performed for molybdenum demonstrates how these data could eventually provide a new benchmark, and also illustrates the potential benefits of further experiments targeting the longer-lived radionuclides relevant to maintenance and decommissioning timescales. There are also some successful tests of transmutation predictions with FISPACT-II. These direct validations of inventory simulations are critical for lifetime predictions and future experiments should learn lessons from the examples described for tungsten, which demonstrate the importance of an accurate description of the neutron spectrum in experiments. More novel experimental techniques are needed to measure helium production in materials such as Fe and C, but the need to validate the nuclear data evaluations used by simulations should motivate future experimental efforts.