Innovate 2 Succeed is a fully funded programme designed to support ambitious SMEs by helping them make a commercial success of their innovations. In the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas of Hertfordshire and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP), it was delivered by Exemplas, which is part of the University of Hertfordshire. The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Innovate UK. The team at Exemplas wanted to understand how effective the project was in achieving its objectives to improve innovation management capacity and help overcome significant barriers to innovation and the commercialisation of new ideas. The ultimate aim was to speed up the routes to market and successfully commercialise new ideas.
We worked with Exemplas between August 2017 and March 2019 on a longitudinal impact study. A consultation programme was undertaken with key stakeholders, as well as a workshop with advisors and a discussion with the Management Committee about the findings. A telephone survey was undertaken with 103 participants and 27 companies who did not proceed (to gain a unique a counterfactual perspective). These interviews were done in two cohorts in 2017 and 2019. We reviewed performance against contracted innovation measures and devised our own indicators to measure distance travelled in innovation terms. The business survey found an increasing propensity to innovate amongst the I2S cohort and tangible improvements being adopted in approaches to innovation. There was evidence of firms’ overcoming key barriers such as risk of failure and having ideas that are not developed enough. The businesses consulted reported significant time and scale additionality. There were demonstrable improvements in bringing products to market and high ratings for the professionalism and the knowledge of the advisors. Eight case studies were also undertaken to unpick the subtleties and intricacies of the programme. For the case studies, we devised an innovation timeline to show how the activities have affected the beneficiaries. The programme has since expanded to cover the East of England. The study shows our experience of devising, collecting and collating innovation impact measures.
We are happy with the interim report, which has been satisfactorily signed off, and are happy to recommend Kada for ERDF evaluation work. We will return in the Summer for a final evaluation