Category Archive: Performance

Jun 20 2017

Low Carbon Innovation Fund evaluation

We undertook a three stage evaluation of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), commissioned by the University of East Anglia (UEA). LCIF is a regional venture capital fund in the East of England funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the 2007-2014 programme. It has fully invested its funds of £20m+, intended for early stage equity investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are developing new and innovative products, services or processes in a low carbon, environmentally sensitive manner.

Our final report is available, in summary (download) or in full on request to LCIF . We produced a further impact report in April 2017, on performance to the end of December 2016,

The Fund is operated by UEA as part of the Adapt Low Carbon Group and managed by City firm, Turquoise International.

The Initial Review concentrated on the management of the Fund from operational, strategic and financial perspectives, with the subsequent stages concerned progressively more with outcomes of the Fund: actual and likely impacts on company performance and jobs, and contributions to the low carbon objectives of ERDF in the region. Our recommendations have informed the delivery and marketing of the Fund, which is proving highly successful in attracting co-investment and fostering innovation.

We carried out the evaluation in conjunction with Futureneering Ltd, Cambridge-based consultants who bring complementary expertise in low carbon technologies.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1313

Dec 06 2016

Innovation in tackling productivity challenges: UK Futures

We have been pleased to assist the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in promoting their UK Futures innovation programme, a series of competitions targeting workforce development challenges.
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Competitions have included:

  • tackling low pay and progression in retail and hospitality
  • encouraging ‘anchor institutions‘ to bring forward new and better ways of helping to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills in small firms. Such organisations are described as those that have an important presence in the local community and make some strategic contribution to the local economy.
  • addressing the gender pay and opportunity gap in cleaning, catering and social care

Derrick Johnstone’s role as an UKCES Associate was to identify organisations likely to be interested in these competitions (for themselves or their networks) and generate interest amongst them, and then provide independent advice to prospective bidders on behalf of UKCES. The aim was to stimulate high quality bids which have real potential to influence future practice and policy.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation ran a joint event, Better Jobs, Better Business with UKCES in March 2016. It sought to explore the support needed to create a virtuous circle of higher skills, job progression and improved business performance, and featured case studies from the UK Futures competition on pay and progression in retail and hospitality, including the Living Wage Foundation, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, and the National Coastal Training Academy. One output is the Hospitality Skills Toolkit which seeks to help employers grow their businesses with gains flowing to their staff as well as their bottom lines. More from the conference can be found on You Tube.

The overall evaluation of the UK Futures programme highlights benefits to business through partnership not least in sharing information, learning and resources.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1311

Jun 20 2016

Venture capital for low carbon businesses

We prepared the first phase of an ex ante evaluation of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund England (LCIF England) on behalf of the Adapt Low Carbon Group at the University of East Anglia. This was proposed as an early stage venture capital fund to back growth businesses which are developing innovative products or processes in a low carbon, environmentally sensitive manner. It was progressed in collaboration with a number of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and intended to secure funding through European Union funding for 2014-20.

The concept of LCIF England was based on that of the successful Low Carbon Innovation Fund established under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme for the East of England 2007-2014. This fund has matched £20.5m ERDF with over £50m private sector co-investment, assisting 72 companies to access risk capital.

Our research concentrated on a market assessment, of the demand and supply of risk capital for innovative businesses, set in the strategic and policy context. We made full use of  relevant small business and equity capital research and data sources, including the very valuable Beauhurst database of deal activity which allows analysis at the level of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Plans for LCIF England have had to be changed dramatically in the light of changes in ERDF policy and delivery arrangements, with procurement decisions in the hands of individual LEPs. Our research, however, provides a platform for a number of LEPs in taking their own, joint funds forward.

Ex Ante Evaluation
For any new fund, or ‘Financial Instrument’ in EU terms, there is a requirement to prepare an ‘ex ante evaluation’. This work is designed to ensure the development of robust business case for any fund, while meeting government and EU requirements. Objectives include:

  • substantiating the case for public funding, based on evidence of market failure in addressing funding gaps for growth businesses and added value a fund can bring
  • ensuring that lessons are learnt from the experience of relevant early stage VC funds such as LCIF
  • informing how the Fund will work: its investment strategy, its governance and management, and how it will work in participating LEP areas

We carried out the ex ante evaluation in conjunction with Futureneering Ltd of Cambridge. Together, we bring complementary expertise in economic development, low carbon technologies, risk capital and evaluation.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1319

Feb 20 2016

Economic Growth Advisor

The Economic Growth Advisor (EGA) programme was introduced by the Local Government Association in 2014 to promote, facilitate and enhance the role of local authorities in delivering economic growth. Derrick Johnstone was recruited to the panel of EGAs, whose role has been to offer bespoke advice and support to individual local authorities.trdc-logo

Derrick advised Three Rivers District Council in Hertfordshire (see LGA case study):

  • providing a fresh look at the local evidence base around economic growth, contributing to an updated Economic Profile
  • preparing a ‘critical friend’ report to the Management Board recommending steps to sharpen the Council’s approach to economic development
  • identifying good practice advice on introducing a Business Charter
  • advising on the content and structure of a revised Economic Development Strategy.

The ‘critical friend’ role was particularly valued, highlighting how, in low cost ways, the Council can add more value in pursuit of economic growth.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1286

Apr 20 2015

Use of evidence in Parliamentary business

Improving future use of research and evidence featured in the conclusions of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into its work since 2010.

Looking to the 2015 Parliament, the Committee recommended exploring how organisations such as the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the What Works Centres might usefully feed into the Committee’s future work, eg, in undertaking rapid reviews of available evidence on inquiry topics.

The Alliance for Useful Evidence submitted evidence jointly with Derrick Johnstone of Educe, author of our report, Squaring the Circle: evidence at the local level. Our submission updated some developments since its publication in 2013, and set out recommendations relating to the future work of the Committee.

The Committee acknowledged several of our suggestions, not least on the need to draw on wider sources of evidence and apply standards of evidence such as those adopted by Bond, the UK membership body for international development.

The Committee expressed concern about the DCLG response to its calls to explain the evidence base lying behind some areas of policy decision-making. It is attracted by the example of the Education Committee’s ‘evidence check’ where views are invited on the strength of evidence from the Department of Education on selected Committee themes. This web forum is intended to help with identifying where contrasting evidence exists and shape future Committee work.

Among proposals for future Committee inquiries were Devolution and City Deals. We, like the RSA City Growth Commission, highlight underlying issues around analytical capacity, skills and data as a significant area of risk to successful implementation. These are worthy of the Committee’s attention, looking at, eg:

  • how local authorities and their partners are adapting and strengthening their capabilities
  • how far information sharing and open data developments are supporting judicious innovation and improving evaluation of impact and ‘what works’
  • how well Government departments and local authorities are developing common understanding of evidence requirements, and
  • the contribution of government initiatives such as the What Works Centres and the Public Sector Transformation Network to local decision-making and capacity building.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1326

Mar 04 2013

Essex OnLine Partnership development

Derrick Johnstone facilitated a development day for the Essex OnLine Partnership (EOLP), which brings together the IT teams across the Essex local authorities, Police and Fire to reduce costs, improve information management and develop the quality of IT services.EOLP Logo The Partnership has evolved significantly over the years and brought substantial value for its members through cost savings and other benefits, eg, in shared learning and a national profile. The timing of the event was significant: EOLP had reached a crossroads in its development, with questions about the future, about the Partnership’s focus and what will bind partner commitment.

Participants reaffirmed the purpose of EOLP and agreed steps to strengthen collaboration, including work on the next generation of IT infrastructure, recruitment of a new partnership manager, and more concerted action to capture and publicise Partnership impact and benefits. Other themes included the scope to make more of the combined staff resource across the partner authorities and the need for a greater focus on the ‘I’ in IT, as partner organisations seek to gain more from their information assets.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1148

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