European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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North West Innovation Network (NWIN)

Title of measure
1999 to 2016
Policy objectives Plus
4.5. Knowledge transfer and cooperation between firms (incl. technology acquisition)
Presentation of the measure:

North West Innovation Network (NWIN) is an association of organisations in the North West of England who have a major focus on supporting innovation in the region. It has been in operation since 1999, initially known as the North West Science Park Network (NWSPN).

NWIN has over 20 member organisations focused around the provision of facilities and business support to high-tech SME businesses, it includes:  

  1. All the major science parks and incubators in the region;
  2. Key business support organisations such as UK Trade and Investment, TrusTech, and the Mersey Dee Alliance;
  3. Organisations focused on innovation such as the National Nuclear Laboratory.

The science park and incubator members provide a home and innovative business environment to over 900 companies in the region. These companies employ nearly 9,000 people. The companies are predominantly technology companies and SME businesses, covering sectors such as advanced engineering, biomedical, digital/ICT/creative, energy and environmental technology.

NWIN provides the following services to its members on a free of charge basis:

  • Informal networking with similar organisations;
  • Sharing of best practise in the facilitation of innovative, business envrionments;
  • Provision of information on relevant programmes and funding for technology-focused SMEs located in the region and specifically at NWIN member locations;
  • A forum for members to engage with relevant public and private sector organisations who provide relevant innovation opportunities for technology-focused SMEs in the region
Budget, source and type of funding
National public funds
Regional public funds
EU Structural funds
Private funds
Form of funding provided
Policy learning
To what extent the measure can be considered as a success and worthy of policy learning?:
There has been a positive response by beneficiaries to the measure (e.g. over-subscribed in terms of requested versus available budget) but it is too early to judge results or impact
Evidence of outcomes based on evaluation and other evidence:

There has been a report in which some of the main results have been described from a survey that was previously done on the impact of the measure.

The main finding of the survey was that the overall impacts of the programmes was not significant with regard to changes in the scores on the four key capacity dimensions. However, the data from both interviews and verbatim comments from the surveys, suggests that the capacity building programmes were viewed positively and generally well-recieved. The report discusses the implications of these findings and offers some tentative interpretations as to why great shifts were not observed. For example, perhaps with all the varioation that exists within the different programmes, participatns and teaching methods, a complex and unsystematic set of results might be expected.

What are the most important “Do’s and Don’ts” that regional stakeholders should be aware of when launching a similar measure?:

One of the main findings suggested that participatns who gained support from the measure had limited opportunities to utilise the knowledge and skills gained on the programme. However, the knowledge was very beneficial in progressing forward with innovative programmes and they will be of great use in the following period. This provides a good idea how capacity development of the measure can be used better and the existance of a report based on a survey of the participants is helpful indicator to further modifications and joint efforts in development. 

Would you recommend this measure as an example of regional good practice to policy-makers from other regions ?:
Organisation(s) responsible
Evaluation report(s)