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Development of key performance indicators – Final Report

BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) spends part of the overseas aid budget on research and innovation through two major initiatives: the Newton Fund and GCRF (Global Challenges Research Fund). Both funds aim to leverage the UK’s world-class research and innovation capacity to pioneer new ways to support economic development, social welfare and long-term sustainable and equitable growth in low- and middle-income countries.

Several recent reviews of the Newton Fund and GCRF have highlighted the need to focus more attention on the use of evidence to track performance, improve impact and deliver value for money. As part of these improvements, this study was commissioned to develop a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Developing indicators in this field is challenging, particularly to assess the impact of research on economic development, social welfare and environmental sustainability. The complexity and length of time it often takes for research to have a societal benefit is well-known, with some impacts taking decades after a long sequence of research and innovation outputs. This complexity is further amplified by the sheer diversity of GCRF and Newton Fund award holders, delivery partners, research topics and geographical coverage, which in effect means that impacts are often dispersed across very different contexts and not readily aggregated.

To fully capture development impact of these funds, we instead suggest a combination of evidence-based solutions that go beyond simply reporting indicators.