Provision of Monitoring, Evaluation and Benefits Management for the National Space Innovation Programme

Satellite hovering above earth, appearing to send a signal, photo by rommma/Adobe Stock

Photo by rommma/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

The National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) supports projects that may be high risk but have the potential for high returns and a clear target market. Launched in 2020, NSIP offers opportunities for project teams to advance their innovative products, services and technologies that have application in the space sector. In its pilot phase (2020-2022), a total of 38 grants were awarded to industry and academic-led teams across the UK to test and advance their innovative projects. Since 2023, NSIP has awarded 8 Major Projects and 15 Kickstarter projects to provide longer support periods for the development of services and technologies.

The core objectives of NSIP are to:

  1. Catalyse investment: secure contract revenue and capital into the UK space sector of 5-8 times the value of NSIP investment by 2030.
  2. Drive innovation: support an average improvement in Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 2 or more for supported projects, as measured over the lifetime of each project.
  3. Capture market share: support generation of new products and services that are sold into the fastest growing and highest potential space markets by 2030.

In addition, NSIP will also increase cross-sector collaboration, help deliver space capabilities and help deliver the Government’s levelling-up priority.

How are we helping? and RAND Europe were commissioned by the UK Space Agency to assess the extent to which NSIP delivers expected impacts and how well grant recipients have been able to catalyse investment. As the consortium lead, will be leading on the impact and economic evaluations, and RAND Europe will be conducting the process evaluation. The assessment will be conducted at two levels: the aim of the fund-level evaluation is to understand how its overall design contributes to delivering benefits. At the project-level, this study will assess how different approaches (such as funding duration and supported technology readiness levels) affect the estimated versus realised impacts of NSIP.

This multi-year study uses a theory-based approach, combined with quasi-experimental methods and case studies to measure and evaluate NSIP’s outcomes and impact. The specific research methods include the review of key documentation and secondary data, interviews, baseline and annual surveys, and workshops/focus groups.