To work towards continually improving the UK Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) throughout its life, the programme is undergoing an evaluation. External reviewers – Risk & Policy Analysts (RPA) Ltd, ABPmer and Ichthys Marine – have been contracted by Cefas to conduct this evaluation throughout the project lifetime.
As the funding programme approaches the first anniversary of its launch, an interim report will provide a review of how the programme has run so far, and will include evidence based recommendations to shape programme delivery in its second year. The evaluation will also generate wider learning that could be applied to the administration of innovation funds both in the seafood and other sectors.
The programme lifetime evaluation – conducted alongside the three-year programme – will consider both the processes and the impact. Processes include the management, administration and implementation of the intervention the funding programme will provide. The changes that occur, the scale of those changes and an assessment of the extent to which they can be attributed to the SIF programme, are known as the ‘impact of the intervention’.
The SIF evaluation has the following specific objectives:
This will help to understand how the funding programme has been implemented and the effects it has had on various stakeholders and why. It will identify what can be improved, the cost-effectiveness of the programme, and identifies any unexpected positive or negative programme outcomes.
Evaluations involve producing a Theory of Change (ToC), which identifies the activities, intermediate outcomes and assumptions that enable changes to happen and impacts to be achieved. An evaluation matrix identifies data collection methods and data sources and is used alongside the ToC to provide the structure for the evaluation, and to identify the key areas and questions for investigation. The initial ToC and evaluation matrix have been developed with input from the Steering Group and other stakeholders from the seafood industry such as seafood processors, scientists and seafood logistics experts.
After each funding call, an interim evaluation will be carried out to determine the opinions and experiences of those involved with the UK Seafood Innovation Fund. To incorporate a range of views, the evaluation will include individual interviews, focus groups and surveys with a range of stakeholders including:
These interim evaluations will cover a range of topics such as:
The programme will consider and implement recommendations from the interim reports as appropriate, and will report on those steps in due course. After each funding call, and on a call-by-call basis, information gathered throughout an evaluation and engagement process will be analysed to produce recommendations and indicate actions that can be implemented as the programme evolves.
The original ToC and evaluation matrix will be reviewed prior to any engagement being carried out at the end of each funding call to make sure the right questions and data sources are being used and that any changes required due to previous interim evaluation results have been incorporated into the methods.
At the end of the current SIF programme, a final report will be produced in July 2022 to summarise the results of the process and impact evaluation, as well as an assessment of value for money to ensure transparent use of public resources.
Crucially, the evaluation will inform evidence to support future seafood sector funding and innovation proposals through identifying best practice and addressing sustainability issues.