Evaluating science and innovation support to low and middle income countries
 The Newton Fund

As the evaluators of the Newton Fund, it is our role to establish whether the goal of the £735 million fund - to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote economic development and welfare in partner countries – is being delivered.

The Newton Fund launched in April 2014, as part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance is run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It works with 18 low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) to increase their scientific capacity and unlock further funding to support poverty alleviation. It does this by focusing on three pillars:

  • The People pillar, which focuses on capacity building, fellowships and mobility schemes
  • The Research pillar, which drives research collaborations and
  • The Translation pillar, which looks to develop innovation partnerships and challenge funds to build innovative solutions to development issues.

The fund’s work is carried out by 15 delivery partners who develop and run calls for funding and allocate and manage the funding they receive. In-country teams within each of the partner countries are tasked with establishing connections and securing match funding from partner country governments.  

Our Role

We were appointed the Evaluation Partner for the Newton Fund in 2015 , spanning its lifetime. As well as evaluating the delivery of the fund’s goal and whether it is being delivered in a way that represents value for money, we also provide assessments of the wider benefits for the UK, including opportunities for collaboration and trade.

Our evaluation design brings together analysis and findings from different quantitative and qualitative, primary and secondary data sources, using contribution analysis as part of a theory-based evaluation approach. Our methodology incorporates data collection methods including:

  • country-level baseline and endline reports;
  • eleven in-depth country thematic case studies covering 24 funded activities;
  • online and telephone surveys of beneficiaries, as well as telephone interviews with beneficiaries;
  • reviews of funded and rejected research applications;
  • a UK benefits study;
  • targeted consultation of in-country partners;
  • a process evaluation and a value for money assessment.

Over the course of our evaluations, our results have been used by BEIS to inform the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of the Newton Fund, and the Fund’s relevance, effectiveness and positive change, as well as the potential for impact and sustainability in the first four years of the Fund's implementation.

Our Evaluation strategy report, Baseline report,Process evaluation report and Mid-term evaluation report can be found on the Newton Fund website. Our work during the final evaluation phases has involved the review of the Newton Fund Theory of Change to improve its utility and relevance, and its readability as a communication tool. The now simplified and streamlined Theory of Change builds on the original design and additional consultations with key stakeholders conducted in early 2020 and was published by BEIS as part of their Operational Framework in August 2020. 

Our Thematic review of approaches to gender equality in the Newton Fund was also published by BEIS in August 2020, which provides BEIS with insights into the current fund-level approaches to gender equality and potential additional steps that can be taken to improve the overall approach.

Our ongoing work

As part of our Newton Fund evaluation work, we are carrying out a research survey with the specialist research agency Ipsos MORI in October 2020. Please click through the link below to see the specific Privacy Notice for this survey.

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