The Catalyst Fund has been running since 2012-13, following from the Strategic Development Fund (SDF). In September 2016 HEFCE commissioned Deloitte to analyse the impact and return on investment that Catalyst funding is delivering. Deloitte reviewed specific case study projects from both Catalyst Fund and the SDF, and also analysed a range of data from other Catalyst-funded projects.
The analysis presented in the report illustrates the diverse range of impacts supported by this type of funding. Key findings of the report are:
- The estimated current return on investment for the Catalyst Fund is £2.91 to £4.64 of supported direct and indirect gross value added for every £1 of investment, over the 10 years after the HEFCE funding period, based on current case study analysis.
- Analysis of similar projects funded under the Strategic Development Fund indicates a net additional return of £12 for every £1 of HEFCE investment as projects become more established over time.
- The funding support from HEFCE promotes collaboration between academia and industry, for instance through employer engagement, and facilitates greater industry involvement in higher education.
- The projects that include academia-industry collaboration have the potential to drive productivity by allowing industry participants access to higher education benefits such as facilities and knowledge exchange, and through lower training costs as graduates can undertake industry-relevant study.
- The projects can enable higher education institutions to play an important role in encouraging research and growth in small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Funding plays a role in supporting regional development through the profile of the distribution of grants. Support from HEFCE to undertake these projects promotes the role of higher education institutions as ‘anchor’ institutions within their region.
- The projects can drive innovation and change across individual universities and more widely in the higher education sector and in partner organisations.