Through programme evaluations we consult with customers about their experiences and the benefits they have achieved. The learnings feed into action plans to make improvements to the programmes, with customer feedback forming a key part of this.
The following evaluation reports have all been published within the last six months and contain useful and interesting insights, a flavour of which is given below.
Innovation Vouchers, valued at up to a maximum of £4,000, can be used to purchase practical advice and expertise from Universities and other publicly funded research bodies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The recent evaluation report says: “The delivery model works well – and is well regarded by participants – and there is no case for major changes to what the Programme is doing, and how it is doing it. Notably the experience and knowledge of academics is regarded highly by participants, and levels of satisfaction are high.”
The Productivity Improvement Programme supports businesses in improving efficiency to boost productivity and increase profits. The recent evaluation report found that for every £1 that Invest NI spent, the programme returned £9.34 in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Northern Ireland economy.
Following feedback from customers, the Design Service evaluation report has recommended that a more tailored approach to the Design Development Programme be considered given that the needs of companies (in terms of workshops, consultant resource etc) may vary depending on their level of design capability. The Programme Manager is currently considering how to implement this in developing the Action Plan.
The Propel programme, which is currently closed for applications, was established to maximise the number and impact of sustainable, knowledge intensive, high growth, export orientated start-up businesses in Northern Ireland. The recent evaluation report revealed 95% of phase 2 participants agreed they would recommend the programme. 70% of phase 1 participants would also do so.
The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) gives local companies access to the biggest innovation and business network in the world. The recent evaluation report highlighted that there is substantial scope to develop the concept that the Network is the natural EU extension of the services offered by Invest NI. The EEN team is exploring how complementarity between the services offered by Invest NI and the Network could be strengthened.
The Proof of Concept Programme (PoC) was established by Invest NI to support the pre-commercialisation of leading edge technologies emerging from Northern Ireland’s research organisations. The evaluation report has recommended that a marketing mechanism be considered to promote the technically successful PoC projects and their results which will in turn lead to greater commercialisation. Invest NI and the research organisations are working towards implementing this.