Since 2015, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has commissioned independent evaluators, Coffey International, to evaluate the Newton Fund. The evaluation looks at how the goal of the Newton Fund is being met and whether that represents good value for money. Reports on different phases of the evaluation are below:
Evaluation strategy report: This presents the evaluation approach to reviewing the Newton Fund. The report includes a ‘theory of change’ which will be used to identify the expected pathways of change and impacts achieved, the final evaluation design, implementation plan, assessment of impact of Newton activities, a process evaluation and value for money assessment.
Baseline report: This captures the extent of science and innovation research capacity in the 15 initial Newton partner countries at the outset of the Newton Fund, using data from international organisations and relevant background literature. The report provides a baseline against which to measure programme outcomes and outputs which will be measured in the evaluation of the Fund.
Note: the findings in this report, figures and partner countries are correct as of August 2016 (based on information that ran up until 2014).
Process evaluation report: This report examines the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of the Newton Fund. Reviews and interviews with stakeholders were used to investigate the evidence, and findings were triangulated to develop a more comprehensive picture of programme delivery.
The report finds that since the initial roll out, the Newton Fund has undergone important developments in terms of how it is run, as well as fine-tuning of its objectives. There is evidence that the Newton Fund supports partnerships that promote economic development and welfare, and that the flexibility around 'match' is one of the key successes. The report makes a number of recommendations which are being taken forward by BEIS.
Mid-term evaluation report: This report evaluates the Fund’s relevance, effectiveness and additionality, as well as the potential for impact and sustainability in the first four years of the Fund's implementation. It uses the 'theory of change' to test the proposed pathways of change. Coffey conducted document reviews, online and telephone surveys of grant recipients, a process evaluation, interviews, and a series of thematic impact studies covering eight of the Fund's partner countries.
The report finds that the Newton Fund is being used to improve the capacity of individuals and institutions to deliver high quality science, generate new international collaborations and develop solutions aimed at tackling development issues. Through it the UK has developed new collaborations, providing access to knowledge not previously available. BEIS are now taking forward the report's recommendations.
Newton Fund thematic impact case studies
Eight country impact reports were commissioned under the Newton Fund evaluation. The reports include an in-depth review of three activities or programmes in Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa.
The eight countries were chosen to highlight the breadth of work going on across different countries and regions, and the innovation capacity and infrastructure of partner countries. The activities and programmes included cover a broad range of sectors and examine Newton Fund impact across all three pillars: research, people and translation.
The research includes in-depth document reviews, interviews in partner countries, and UK-based consultations to build a comprehensive picture of programme delivery and capture early signs of the Newton Fund's impact.
Findings show how the Newton Fund is achieving results in partner countries. Click on the links below for individual country reports:
The report found there are emerging positive impacts of the Newton Fund in Brazil. As a result of their involvement in the fund, participating institutions in Brazil have improved their management of international programmes and increased the specialisation of administrative teams.
Respondents also identified benefits to the UK through a closer relationship with the Brazilian government, as well as collaborations with high quality institutions in specialised fields.
Emerging positive impacts of the Newton fund in China include strengthening existing international partnerships and creating new relationships. In addition, the fund has raised the UK's profile in China for science and innovation cooperation.
The Newton Fund is starting to have a positive impact in Egypt, for example the fund’s broad scope was an opportunity to engage in more social sciences and humanities. Moreover, the fund appears to be heading towards larger scale and more research-oriented cooperation with Egypt, in line with Egypt's revised priorities addressed in its Vision 2030 programme.
The fund has also positively influenced UK-Egypt relations in the science and innovation cooperation field.
All three India projects covered in the report demonstrated evidence that funding is channeled to support areas of agreed priority for both the UK and India, in line with the agreed country strategy. The fund has supported and encouraged more collaborative ways of working, and there are numerous examples of successful impact stories. The fund has taken many projects the UK and India have been working on for years to the next stage through the additional funding.
In addition, while there were pre-existing relationships and the appetite to work together, the Newton Fund has opened doors for the UK - the UK is now the most significant partner for at least one funder.
The report found emerging positive impacts of the Newton Fund in South Africa for all three case studies, for example a secondary audience of historically disadvantage universities in South Africa benefited from the capacity building workshops from one programme.
The fund has also helped build UK capacity and increase UK researcher's international exposure. UK institutions have been able to develop follow-on partnerships from Newton Fund programmes.
The report found the Newton Fund was seen as a very positive collaboration by all partners, and is perceived to be an equal partnership, rather than development assistance. It fills some gaps in the Mexican research funding system and has had institutional impact, for example, the fund has led to management and organisational change, with the creation of two specialised sub-divisions in Mexico under the International Relations Department.
In addition, the Newton Fund has helped UK researchers learn about Mexico partners' ways of working and their strengths.
The Newton Fund is starting to have a positive impact in Malaysia, for example valuable partnerships have been established between Malaysia-to-Malaysia delivery partners (who traditionally work in silos but are now working together to help deliver activities) and stakeholders in both the UK and Malaysia working together to support each other's activities. There is also increased interest and engagement from industry in working with academics (especially with international collaborations) on innovative solutions.
Respondents also identified several benefits to the UK, including opportunities to understand Malaysia research, infrastructure, and culture, as well as a strengthened relationship with a South East Asian country.
The report found emerging positive impacts on the Newton Fund in the Philippines, for example, based on their experiences of the fund, a Newton grantee was able to develop a new science training programme outside Newton funding that imitated the cost-sharing model used by the Fund. In addition, the fund has allowed exposure to the UK as well as other Newton Fund partner countries.
The fund has also improved Philippines' perception of the UK, both because of the increased multi-cultural interaction and in terms of funding opportunities.