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.