We have wide experience of working across UK government departments and agencies on small and large projects, delivered solely by CECAN or collaboratively with partners. Some of our recent projects are summarised below.
Mapping government’s actions to deliver Thriving Plants and Wildlife
This project aims to improve understanding of the government’s intended path to delivery of its Thriving Plants and Wildlife Goal (TPW) and was commissioned to enhance OEPs ability to review and assess government action for nature. TPW is the apex goal of the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 for England (EIP). The project has reviewed, collated and structured information about the diverse actions the UK government have committed to taking in the delivery of the Thriving Plants and Wildlife (TPW) goal into a searchable catalogue. The catalogue has been used to develop diagrammatic products to help OEP to understand the progress of policy development and implementation and the distribution of responsibility for delivery. Together these products are intended to support OEP’s future monitoring and evaluation of government’s progress and delivery and assist it its role of holding the government to account in this area.
Evaluation of the Safe and Sound Cities Programme
The Safe and Sound Cities (S2Cities) Programme aims to improve young people’s safety and wellbeing in urban environments through youth-led innovation. Focusing on young people between the ages of 15 and 24, the programme takes a holistic and relational approach to wellbeing, placing young people at the centre of decision-making, contributing with knowledge creation, while recognising that public authorities are also an integral part to achieving system change. The evaluation was commissioned to provide an independent formative review of the S2Cities (phase I), focusing on the programme’s two pilot cities of Envigado in Colombia and Bandung in Indonesia. With a strong emphasis on forward looking recommendations, the evaluation is intended to generate learnings to inform the potential scaling up of the programme for the following phases which aims to carry out the 10-year worldwide initiative in 10 secondary cities located in 6 low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) across Southeast Asia, Latin America, and potentially Africa.
UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund
CECAN Ltd is currently working with Technopolis Ltd (and is commissioned until 2025) to carry out an independent evaluation of UKRI’s key investment, the SPF. The SPF is a diverse portfolio of programmes with different themes and funding bodies. The aim of the evaluation is to inform ongoing and future improvements of the fund, to maximise the value of public funding (in particular, the possibility of future growth of the SPF), to demonstrate what the fund delivered for taxpayers and to help UKRI build the evidence base on ‘what works’. The evaluation is being undertaken over four phases with discrete deliverables, including evaluation reports that effectively capture evidence as the project progresses. Accordingly, each subsequent report adds to the overall evidence base for the evaluation.
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Complexity Evaluation Framework
Client: Digital Catapult
Project Team: CECAN Ltd
CECAN Ltd has worked with the Digital Catapult in the early development stages of a new evaluation framework that will be implemented for the next Grant Funding Agreement between Innovate UK and Digital Catapult (beginning in 2023). Ultimately, the Digital Catapult is looking to create a framework that captures the longer term ‘indirect’ impacts and wider intangible economic benefits that are generated as a consequence of its interventions. Through a series of online workshops, our team identified the best ideas and approaches that most effectively reflect the complexity of the Catapult and its role within the innovation system. This provided an opportunity for Digital Catapult to reassess its approach to evaluation and to explore the potential of new approaches that more accurately reflect the complex and dynamic nature of Catapults more broadly.
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Theory of Change Tool
Between January and July 2021, CECAN Ltd worked with Technopolis Ltd to design a bespoke ToC tool for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to assist in the design and delivery of evaluation of its complex policies. Defra wanted to be able to capture linkages between activities, outputs and outcomes, to assist in policy evaluation and implement the Public Value Framework approach. We contributed to the design of a practical tool that enables Defra teams to generate robust and dynamic Theories of Change for the evaluation of programmes and strategies across Defra’s complex policy remit. Informed by a review of existing tools and literature on ToC and complexity aware evaluation, including the aforementioned CEF, the Defra ToC tool provides clear accountability on how initiatives will deliver and measure outcomes, including metric development.
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Complexity Evaluation Framework
Project Team: CECAN Ltd
On the 5th June 2019, CECAN Ltd presented a first look at the new Complexity Evaluation Framework (Version 1) to an audience of policy-makers, analysts and commissioners in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The framework was commissioned by Defra and delivered by CECAN Ltd. Written for analysts and policy-makers who are involved in planning, commissioning, managing and/or delivering evaluation, the framework aims to ensure that complexity thinking is consistently embedded into evaluation – to equip its users with a checklist of core considerations to ensure that evaluations are robust and sufficiently consider the implications of complexity.
The workshop included a discussion with Roisin O’Brien (Principal Social Researcher – Resources and Waste Evidence) and Tom Pye (Senior Policy Advisor – Resources, Waste and Plastics Strategy), hosted by CECAN Deputy Director Ben Shaw.
CECAN Ltd successfully delivered the new Complexity Evaluation Framework (Version 1), which can be accessed and downloaded on the Defra website.
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Systems Analysis for Water Resources
Between October 2019 and September 2020, CECAN Senior Research Fellows Dr Alex Penn and Dr Pete Barbrook-Johnson worked with Mott Macdonald on the ‘Systems Analysis for Water Resources’ project funded by Defra. The project used CECAN’s Participatory Systems Mapping approach to explore how whole systems and complexity-appropriate approaches can be used to provide insight on, and inform management of, river catchments. The project work took place in the Eden river catchment in Cumbria and the Medway in Kent, to develop systems maps of these catchments. These maps were co-produced and used with local stakeholders, and informed wider learning for Defra on how these approaches can work at the catchment level.
”They [Mott Macdonald] have ensured the project team includes experts from CECAN, who are also pivotal to the success of the project. The genuine interest in the project and desire from the Mott MacDonald and CECAN team to push the boundaries of what has been done before has added real value to the project. The creative ideas and suggestions of how to improve the approach as well as the great efforts they go to build excellent relationships with the participants of the research has been very much appreciated.” Defra
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Design of an Evaluation Framework for Biodiversity Net Gain in England
CECAN Ltd, with Collingwood Environmental Planning Ltd, BSG Ecology, Geodata Institute, and Vivid Economics, was commissioned by Natural England on behalf of Defra to undertake a project to design an evaluation framework for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) in England. The aim of mandatory BNG policy, as set out in the 2020 Environment Bill, is to secure a measurable improvement in habitat for biodiversity whilst streamlining the planning process and creating better places for local communities. The purpose of the framework is to enable Natural England and Defra to evaluate how BNG is being delivered and understand the impact (environmental, social, and economic) of the BNG policy.
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Forces Connect South East – Veteran’s Hub Project
Client: Surrey County Council
Between January and October 2020 CECAN Ltd (Dr Ananya Mukherjee) undertook an evaluation and review of the Forces Connect South East – Veterans’ Hub Project. The project was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund and led by Surrey County Council who commissioned CECAN Ltd to draft an external evaluation report, compiled utilising a range of techniques, in order to identify how effective the project had been in delivering against its stated outcomes and milestones using a theory-based evaluation method. The evaluation of the Forces Connect South East – Veterans’ Hub (FCSE-VH) Project aimed to assess the efficacy and impact of the project through the various engagement and outreach activities aimed at strengthening support to local veterans through the identification of need and current provision, developing best practice and enhancing the current offer through the creation of potential new hubs and sustaining existing ones, where there was a proven need for additional funds. Dr Ananya Mukherjee was Lead Consultant on behalf of CECAN Ltd. The project was carried out within the local authority areas of Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, East Sussex and West Sussex County Councils, and Brighton & Hove and Medway Councils. Qualitative data analysis methods were used to evaluate and highlight the work of the FCSE-VH’s work in facilitating the smooth transition of ex-service personnel into civilian life as well as supporting veterans who have previously served in the armed forces.