Tag Archive: small business

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 has now been published which highlights not least the benefits businesses can gain by sharing information, learning and resources.

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

Sep 20 2016

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 or in full on request to LCIF .

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

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

Aug 11 2011

Brokering business connections

Evaluation of the Business Broker Programme – final report (Brokering Business Connections) for Business in the Community (BitC) and the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) on the national pilot programme, testing out the role of Business Brokers supporting business involvement in Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and neighbourhood renewal.

The summary report is available for download from Business in the Community. Full report here ( pdf 700KB)

The evaluation has informed the development of Business Connectors, the current BitC programme described as a “powerful network of secondments recruited from business … to tackle social issues in local neighbourhood areas, and in so doing, create a powerful new development experience for talented business people”. This has been seen as a contribution to the Government’s agenda for the Big Society, with a major expansion funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=156

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

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