Evaluation of the Invest Northern Ireland Innovation Vouchers Programme

The Innovation Vouchers Programme aims to encourage greater levels of innovation activity amongst Northern Ireland's small businesses. Support is provided via a £5,000 'voucher' that can be redeemed with 'Knowledge Providers' (universities, colleges, and research institutes) across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for practical advice and expertise on the development of new or improved products, processes and services.

SQW was commissioned to undertake a final evaluation of Phase II (2012-2015) and an interim evaluation of Phase III (2015-2019) of the programme. The evaluation included a telephone survey with over 250 businesses that had completed voucher projects, an e-survey of over 70 academics who had delivered projects, and consultations with Knowledge Provider representatives and stakeholders across the innovation landscape in Northern Ireland. Full economic impact and Value for Money assessments were undertaken for Phase II and Phase III respectively.

The evaluation highlights that there has been continued demand from the business base for the programme. The findings are also positive in terms of the performance of the programme against its intended aims and objectives, and wider contribution to the development of the level of innovation within the business base in Northern Ireland. The evaluation also found that the programme has been delivered effectively by Invest NI.

The full report can be downloaded here.

This study builds on our earlier work evaluating the programme in 2014, and has further enhanced our understanding of the developing knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland. For further information regarding our work in Northern Ireland, and across the island of Ireland, please contact Joe Duggett.