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Newton Fund Impact Evaluation

We are assessing over ten years of research and innovation (R&I) funding by the UK Government to capture evidence of long-term outcomes and impact.


Specifically, we are evaluating the outcomes and impacts of the Newton Fund – a seven-year investment by the UK Government as part of its strategy to carve out a higher-profile role within the global Science, Research, Technology, and Innovation landscape.

The Newton Fund was managed by the UK Department for Science, Information and Technology (DSIT).

We are conducting this evaluation in consortium with RAND Europe, Athena Infonomics, Plan Eval and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

About the Newton Fund

Launched in 2014, The Newton Fund worked in 18 partner countries across three pillars of activities:

  1. Research: research collaborations and platforms)
  2. People: developing talent
  3. Translation: R&I networks and infrastructure.

Over the years, the Fund’s management underwent considerable changes in response to periodic reviews by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact.

Our role

Our evaluation aims to provide insights for DSIT’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) Analysis and Policy teams. It also has great potential to promote learning with evaluation managers across ODA-spending departments, the UK Collaborative on Development Research, and more widely.

The evaluation has three core objectives:

  1. Provide evidence of longer-term outputs, outcomes and impacts achieved through the Newton Fund investment.

This objective relates to the need for accountability for one of DSIT’s flagship investments, by looking at the extent and nature of its achievements.

2: Provide improved knowledge of the Value for Money (VfM) achieved.

DSIT is emerging as a leader within UK government in developing VfM approaches for R&I funds/programmes. This evaluation will provide evidence to compare other R&I funds and contribute to further development of an adapted version of Julian King/Oxford Policy Management’s rubric-based, evaluative approach.

3: Generate learning from longer-term Fund operations to inform management and implementation of current/future R&I funds, particularly those with ODA funding.

The utilisation-focus of the evaluation will help ensure that it provides insights for current and future R&I funds. In particular, lessons are expected to help inform the implementation of DSIT’s International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF), which has many similarities including many of the same partner organisations.

Methods and approaches

Our equity and utilisation-focused evaluation involves four modules:

  • Module 1 brings together innovative data science methods and theory-based evaluation expertise, giving a robust picture of longer-term outcomes.
  • Module 2 analyses Newton Fund’s impacts, using bricolage to understand pathways to impact at country and fund levels.
  • Module 3 will provide a robust rubric-based VfM assessment of the fund, using evidence from modules 1 and 2.
  • Crosscutting module 4 provides synthesis insights across all modules, and supports learning by DSIT and other stakeholders.

Outcomes and impact

Our evaluation is exploring the longer-term impact that research and innovation funding makes across a wide range of sectors. We aim to better understand the Newton Fund’s outcomes – both those specified in its Theory of Change and others – to provide lessons for future R&I funds.