Conducting the Evaluation of the Small Business Research Initiative
The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) provides a major boost to UK innovative capability and commercialisation. It comprises challenge led procurement initiatives, deployed across Whitehall departments and devolved agencies, aimed at:
- Stimulating innovation in the economy by supporting firms to develop and commercialise new technology-based products and solutions; and
- Providing government departments and their agencies with innovative solutions to addressing public policy challenges and societal needs.
SBRI is an increasingly attractive tool given the need for innovative solutions to drive the post-pandemic recovery and the redrawing of procurement regulations following the EU Exit.
Steer-ED and partners, including Aston Business School and Qa Research, were commissioned, by Innovate UK, to evaluate the impact of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).
Our team’s approach was grounded in Green & Magenta Book guidance and evaluation good practice, adopting a mixed-methods approach designed to test a clear theory of change that underpins and drives the logic model for the evaluation.
Our approach combined: a literature review; surveys with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries; assessment of monitoring data; a formal econometric counterfactual impact assessment; detailed qualitative case study work alongside an extensive consultation process.
The evaluation concluded that SBRI has provided ‘win-win’ outcomes for the public and private sectors and has done so by offering good value for money.
But, there is scope for a significant scaling up of the benefits that SBRI could generate for both the public and private sectors and the economy and the health of society more generally.
We recommended an ambitious package of proposals (around leadership and funding, monitoring accountability, and raising capacity and capability) which have informed the next phase of SBRI rollout.