SQW appointed to evaluate the Northern Ireland Innovation Vouchers programme

Invest Northern Ireland's Innovation Voucher Programme (IVP) is now in its tenth year. It aims to encourage greater levels of innovation activity amongst Northern Ireland's business base by supporting SMEs to develop innovative solutions to enhance their growth and competitiveness, with the support of public sector Knowledge Providers such as universities, colleges and other research centres. Support is provided via a £5,000 'voucher' that can be redeemed with Knowledge Providers across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for practical advice and expertise, including ideas for new or improved products, processes and services.

Following our earlier work evaluating the programme in 2014, SQW has been commissioned to undertake a final evaluation of Phase II (2012-2015) and an interim evaluation of Phase III (2015 – to date) of the programme. The evaluation will include a telephone survey with businesses that have completed innovation projects, consultations with Knowledge Providers and stakeholders across the innovation landscape in Northern Ireland, and a full economic impact and Value for Money assessment.

Subject to the findings of the evaluation, SQW will undertake a subsequent Economic Appraisal to allow uninterrupted progression to Phase IV of the IVP. This will follow Green Book processes including defining a theory of change, undertaking an options analysis exercise, and developing a bespoke economic impact model.

This work further develops our experience and insight into the growth of Northern Ireland as a knowledge-based economy. Other recent experience includes considering the options for support for the commercialisation of research from local universities and research assets via 'proof of concept' funding, and reviews of the landscape for growth finance and business angel investment activity. For further information regarding our work in Northern Ireland, and across the island of Ireland, please contact Joe Duggett.