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Impact evaluation of ProspeKT/Informatics Ventures


Over 2005 and 2006 the ProspeKT project was developed as part of a major partner investment project, funded by Scottish Enterprise (SE) and the University of Edinburgh (UoE), undertaken to better exploit the commercial potential of the School of Informatics (SoI) at UoE. The availability of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in 2008 offered the opportunity to expand the range of activities on offer, resulting in the Informatics Ventures (IV) project which enhanced the range of services available and the geographic reach of the project. Overall, the key objective was to support commercialisation, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurialism amongst Scottish businesses and start-ups and spin outs. The main objectives of the study were to undertake an impact evaluation of the ProspeKT/IV Projects between 2006 and 2011 to measure the performance and impacts achieved, but also to inform delivery of the new follow-on project, Informatics in Scotland.


The methodology comprised desk based research, beneficiary interviews and consultations with stakeholders.


The study found that, throughout its lifetime, the project demonstrated a strong fit with, and contribution towards the aims and objectives of the wider policy agenda. Consultation with beneficiaries and stakeholders identified that the project has made some gains in reducing market failures and barriers for engagement. However, feedback also suggested that market failures continue to persist in the informatics market, in particular, the provision of information for business start-up/growth and a general reluctance to invest in untested and new/emerging processes, products and services. In terms of progress towards targets, the project was found to be very successful in achieving most of the financial and performance targets set. The project has also achieved a number of wider benefits, including improved academic attitudes to commercialisation, relationship building, enhanced reputation, enhanced networking and contacts, and an increased awareness of how informatics/university engagement can support companies. Overall, the majority of respondents were positive regarding the project and the support they received, with a number of benefits highlighted in relation to networking, finance, innovation and sales. In terms of economic impact, the overall net additional effect of the project is estimated at 983 jobs and GVA of £85.3m over the ten-year evaluation period. Set against the discounted project costs of £11.5m, the project generates a return on investment of £7.40:1, meaning that for every £1 SE invested in the project, it generates £7.40 GVA in the Scottish economy.


A range of preliminary recommendations for future delivery of the successor project were made. These included: reviewing monitoring systems and procedures; ensuring access to data held on businesses in receipt of support; identifying service priorities; ensuring an appropriate level of aftercare support is available to businesses; nurturing a community of interest; providing greater transparency regarding the services available and eligibility criteria; and articulating the benefits of the governance model used by the project in delivering a more flexible and tailored service to businesses and academics.

Author EKOS Limited
Published Year 2014
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Support to existing/growth businesses
  • Innovation