Higher Education Innovation Funding: evaluating value and impact

Research England has commissioned an independent review of its Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) programme.

This project will:

  • provide an update on and evaluate the programme’s value for money
  • provide evidence of policy effectiveness and impact

Why we are evaluating HEIF

UK Research and Innovation has a responsibility to maximise value and outcomes from public money. This includes the Higher Education Innovation Funding delivered by Research England.

HEIF is Research England’s main funding stream for knowledge exchange. It aims to deliver economic and societal impact and government priorities by:

  • embedding culture and capacity and developing capabilities for knowledge exchange across the higher education sector
  • supporting delivery of high-performance knowledge exchange activities
  • incentivising higher education providers to be strategic actors

The last full evaluation of HEIF was in 2008. This project will provide an update on that evaluation. It will use the latest theory-based methodology to examine the achievements delivered through HEIF.

What we are evaluating

This evaluation will look at the outcomes achieved by HEIF-allocated funding between 2008 and 2020. It will review how the programme:

  • drives strategy and change within higher education providers, to deliver on government priorities
  • delivers value for money

This will be achieved by developing and testing a programme theory to get insights on how HEIF operates on the ground between funded higher education providers and their knowledge exchange partners in various contexts and situations.

How the project will run

The evaluation project will run from November 2022 until summer 2024. It is expected to comprise of three distinct strands of work.

Phase one (three months): This phase comprises the design and development of the methodology for the evaluation, which will consider relevant burden and benefits.

Phase two (12 months): This phase will involve deploying the methodology selected in phase one.

Phase three (three months): This phase will summarise the findings and then develop conclusions and recommendations for a final report. The report outcomes will be disseminated in a range of formats to support funding, policy and higher education provider development.

Research England has procured an external supplier to deliver the whole evaluation.

How the project is governed

Research England’s executive group is the programme board for the HEIF evaluation. The group is responsible for overseeing the programme and sharing information with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and other government stakeholders.

The evaluation project team is advised by an independent HEIF evaluation expert advisory group, who offer relevant insights and expertise. The advisory group:

  • give advice on the design and tender of the evaluation, how it is conducted and findings are disseminated
  • provide guidance on the overall direction of the evaluation and its delivery
  • act as a critical friend to Research England on matters of evaluation and analysis

Members of the advisory group are drawn from university senior management teams and people with significant expertise in evaluation design and analysis. They include:

  • Tomas Coates Ulrichsen (Chair), Director, UCI Policy Evidence Unit, University of Cambridge
  • Alice Frost, Knowledge Exchange Director, Research England
  • George Bramley, Principal Analyst, City-REDI, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, The University of Manchester
  • Dr Phil Clare, CEO of Queen Mary Innovation Ltd., Queen Mary University of London
  • Dr Gemma Derrick, Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Bristol
  • Dr Efthymia Amanatidou, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research

Outputs from the HEIF evaluation

See the HEIF expert advisory group meeting minutes.

Ask a question about the HEIF evaluation




Last updated: 24 April 2023

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