Tag Archive: innovation

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

Sep 13 2014

Squaring the circle: useful local evidence


How are local authorities and their partners using data and evidence to square the circle of dramatic reductions in resources set against rising needs and expectations?

The Alliance for Useful Evidence (A4UE) commissioned Educe to report on how local authorities and their partners are seeking to make more of a difference through better use of ‘real world’ data and evidence. (Download available here, blog here and related Municipal Journal article here.)

This scene-setting report considers, amongst other things:

  • how evidence is shaping priorities and helping to make change more manageable
  • recent developments in methods to inform investment decision-making, eg, around preventative services
  • data and evidence for service improvement and transformation
  • raising demand for better evidence – analysis and presentation
  • making the most of analytical resources within and across organisations

It highlights practical steps and the scope for further action, for the Alliance, partners and supporters.

It was one of a series of Alliance outputs in 2013 which sought to stimulate the demand for and use of evidence through promotion of best practice and learning. We have since updated some of the content of ‘Squaring the Circle’ in preparing our joint submission with the Alliance for Useful Evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government (January 2015).

The Alliance for Useful Evidence has now over 2,000 members. It was set up by Nesta, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Big Lottery Fund to “champion the use of and demand for evidence that is rigorous, accessible and appropriate”. The Alliance is working with SOLACE (the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), and our paper was informed by participation in the 2012 SOLACE Summit.

Nesta are partners with the Cabinet Office and ESRC in setting up a network of What Works Centres, including one for Local Economic Growth, in an initiative launched in March 2013.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1094

Oct 20 2010

Carbon Connections evaluation

Carbon Connections was a low carbon innovation development fund led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). It was one of 11 three-year projects supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), under the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) between 2007 and 2009.Educe were commissioned to assess the qualitative impact of the fund, and draw lessons and pointers to inform the strategic development of similar programmes. We provided UEA with an overall evaluation framework, with our research complementing other evaluative data from individual projects and a separate assessment of carbon reduction gains.The evaluation considered, amongst other things, forms of added value generated by the programme, the role of project co-ordinators as brokers/relationship managers, and perspectives from venture capital organisations and private sector partners.

UEA’s experience in managing Carbon Connections led to their success in securing ERDF funding for the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), a regional venture capital fund in the East of England aimed at SMEs who are developing innovative products, services or processes in a low carbon, environmentally sensitive manner. Educe have since been commissioned to undertake the evaluation of LCIF, in conjunction with Futureneering Ltd.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=250

Aug 26 2010

Partnerships & Places case studies

Case studies for the Partnerships and Places Library, developed by IDeA (now part of the Local Government Association) – intended to enable ‘sharing learning and innovation to transform localities’. These have included:
  • Dorset Performance Management Partnership
  • Implementing a reward target in Derby: children’s physical activity
  • Manchester Economic Development Services Framework
  • Manchester: tackling worklessness amongst social housing tenants
  • Enable, Nottingham (learning and skills consortium in the voluntary and community sector)
  • Flight of the Flamingos, Wolverhampton (partnership development programme aimed at middle managers)
  • Lewisham: putting people first (an effective model for driving service improvement and efficiency savings, now being used in a partnership setting, a joint local authority/NHS centre for children with learning difficulties and their families)
  • Salford Spotlights (locality action planning)
  • Hull Youth Enterprise Partnership
More recent case studies have been published on the Work Together site, which the Local Government Association trialled as a precursor to their new Knowledge Hub:
  • Social Innovation Lab for Kent (SILK)
  • Oldham Reducing Teenage Pregnancy Through Information Sharing
  • Green Flag Thematic Study: Improving Economic Prosperity During the Recession
  • Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s Virtual School

The case studies were part of our work for IDeA/Local Government Improvement and Development under a framework contract for ‘Sustainable Communities’ and ‘Policy and Performance’. The Library also contains updated versions of case studies we orginated for the predecessor site, Renewal.net – such as B&Q Bolton recruitment policies.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=182

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