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How impact evaluations demonstrate the value of our funding

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Innovate UK are committed to robust, transparent evaluation of our activities. As a taxpayer funded organisation, full process and impact evaluations are an important way to understand whether and how we are achieving our aim to drive economic growth through stimulating and supporting business-led innovation, and to justify and demonstrate the value of our funding.

Over the last three years we have been implementing a comprehensive programme of evaluation across all of our activities. We aim to deliver the most robust, credible, and informative evaluations possible – to be world leaders in the evaluation of Government-led innovation support.

Interim evaluation of the Biomedical Catalyst

The Biomedical Catalyst evaluation, published today, represents one outcome of this plan – a robust, independent assessment of the effectiveness of the programme, and the early impacts we can observe from it. It is an interim report, with a full impact evaluation to follow next year, but already we can see some of the impacts of this programme:

  • The Biomedical Catalyst processes are generally deemed to be highly effective by programme participants
  • Projects awarded funding have accelerated their technological progress, above and beyond what would have occurred in the absence of funding
  • Biomedical Catalyst awardees have found it easier to raise additional follow-on funding
  • Turnover and employment rose more rapidly amongst successful applicants to the programme than for non-successful applicants, although at this stage it is too early to be confident about attributing all of these findings to the Catalyst

More findings will emerge as we complete the next phase of this evaluation, including around the full impact of the Catalyst on business performance and economic growth. However, this report provides positive interim findings as we continue to invest in the Catalyst over the next few years.

I’m particularly proud of the Catalyst evaluation because it has been jointly delivered with our colleagues at the Medical Research Council. As the Catalyst is 50:50 funded by our two organisations, so was the evaluation jointly funded and managed.

We know that research and innovation happens in a complex, interconnected system, and so working together on this evaluation has enabled our evidence base to better reflect the way that system works. I look forward to more joint evaluation projects in the future.

Review of IC tomorrow

We are today also publishing a review of IC tomorrow, conducted on our behalf by CFE Research. The review considers:

  • the rationale for the programme
  • which aspects have been most valuable to companies
  • the key lessons learned
  • the value added by the programme
  • potential ways to improve it

This type of review is not a full evaluation, but does provide insight as to its effectiveness and value, and is a useful, practical way of understanding how we might improve our performance as an organisation, and I’m pleased to be publishing its findings in full today.

Plans for the future: more, more and more evaluation

These reports are some of the early outputs of our evaluation plan. Robust evaluation takes time to yield results and so it really is with great pleasure that we publish them today.

More will follow. This year we’re aiming to publish evaluation reports on:

  • two of our “innovation platforms” – strategic investments in Low Impact Buildings and Sustainable Agriculture & Food
  • SBRI
  • ICURe pilot

We are also continuing our evaluations of:

  • the Catapult network
  • Smart programme
  • Innovation Vouchers programme

Finally, we will launch new evaluations of our Fund and Connect activities.

We’ll also be publishing our new evaluation strategy, setting out our guiding principles in designing and implementing evaluations, and committing to a constantly improving evidence base.

It’s an exciting year for me, as our efforts of the last three years bear fruit, and I look forward to sharing the outputs with you.

Follow me on Twitter: @EconDanH

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