Office for Students – Degree Apprenticeship Funding Competition evaluation

Team CVs

Andrew Graves, Project Director, Ortus Economic Research

Andrew is a highly experienced analyst, evaluator and project director, having worked in the economic development field for 30 years. Over this time, he has developed a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in the development of robust, reliable evidence and its application in developing projects, evaluating investments and implementing policy. He has worked for a wide range of clients giving him extensive experience of a breadth of policy and organisational contexts. He counts many of the key UK economic policy organisations as his clients. He brings a strong track record in impact assessment and evaluation, having delivered a significant number of such projects throughout his career.

Until February 2017, Andrew was Managing Director of Trends Business Research Ltd (TBR), an economic research and policy consultancy established in 1986. TBR had a national profile in its field and regularly worked with central government to establish the evidence needed to underpin and design policy. Having moved on from TBR, Andrew established a new consultancy – Ortus Economic Research – to continue to deliver these services to clients in the research and evaluation market.

Throughout his career, Andrew has been at the forefront of designing and delivering research and evaluation projects related to economic policy. He has an innate interest in the capture, analysis and interpretation of data to support strategy development, business growth and monitoring/evaluation. Andrew has extensive experience of designing and delivering impact evaluations of programmes, projects, infrastructure and planned initiatives. His evaluation project experience covers innovation projects, strategic plans, capital investments, cultural programmes and skills development projects. Andrew is currently leading the 3-year impact evaluation of the National Innovation Centre for Data as well as supporting on the 3-year evaluation of the Arrow Innovation project, both on behalf of Newcastle University, and is therefore very well informed regarding the business model, objectives, operations and has built effective working relationships with the management team.

Andrew is a highly effective collaborator both with clients and the network of associates that he has built up over his career.

Andrew’s key skills include: impact assessment and evaluation to Treasury Green Book and Magenta Book standards, logic model development, evaluation design, quantitative data analysis, qualitative evidence gathering (surveys, focus groups, workshops, depth interviews), reporting and recommendations design.

Projects that Andrew has led in the area of impact evaluation and impact assessment include the following:

  • North East LEP and Innovation SuperNetwork – Evaluation of Challenge North Tyne Innovation Programme
  • Newcastle University Creative Fuse NE – Formative and summative ERDF evaluation
  • Newcastle University National Innovation Centre for Data – 3-year impact evaluation
  • North of Tyne Combined Authority – NICD Project Impact Evaluation
  • Irish Research Council – Evaluation of the Gender Strategy and Action Plan
  • Newcastle University Arrow Innovation Programme – 3-year ERDF evaluation
  • Newcastle University Creative and Cultural Industries Research
  • North of Tyne Combined Authority – Creative and Cultural Investment Programme; Evidence Base
  • Innovate UK – Catapult Review and Evaluation
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult – Strategic Impact Assessment
  • Newcastle University – Campus for Ageing and Vitality Economic Social and Policy Assessment
  • Arts Council England – Evaluation of the Museums Programme, England
  • Advance HE – Impact Evaluation of the Athena SWAN Charter
  • Advance Northumberland – Economic impact assessment of the Energy Central Project
  • Sunderland City Council – Economic impact assessment of the 2015 Economic Masterplan
  • Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums – Museum development evaluation
  • Historic England – Regional impact toolkit
  • RTC North – Design Network North Evaluation
  • Generator – Music Futures Evaluation
  • Arts Council England – The Impact of Museums
  • Leeds City College – Rural Business Programme Evaluation

Andrew holds a first class degree in International Business Management from Newcastle University, a PGDip in Strategy and Resource Management from Northumbria University and a Diploma in Management from Grenoble Ecole de Management.

Gordon Allinson, Project Manager, ERS

Gordon will be the project manager, liaising with the Andrew at Ortus and the client, as well internal coordination in ERS. Gordon will lead on the management information analysis and impact analysis.

His published research is both quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative Research based on depth interviews includes Sociology of Enterprise and Research into Family Businesses. Process evaluations would include Formative evaluation of Growth Accelerator, looking at the design and implementation of a new nationwide £200m scheme to support SMEs. Impact and Value for Money evaluations would include Enterprise Finance Guarantee Evaluation.

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) is a government-backed scheme for credit constrained businesses. Surveys were administered to the EFG treatment group, as well as a comparison group of other borrowers and a third group of non-borrowers. Ultimately the analysis found no significant difference for the EFG treatment but did find that the policy of loans for working capital were, perhaps unsurprisingly less effective than loans for investment purposes. Value for money in the same study drew on EFG management information and survey data to estimate scheme benefits using HM Treasury Green Book best practice.

Analysis of monitoring information is also a theme across many programme evaluations, with high-quality monitoring information being very useful as a resource that by itself responds to many different research questions, as well as supporting other research questions. In our BIPC evaluation tens of thousands of records of monitoring information were available, which provided a basis to test for inclusion of minorities in different types of support, finding for example, that gendered use varied by different support specialisms.

Example Projects include:

  • Economic Evaluation of the British Library Business & IP Centres, British Library, 2023
  • User experience and inclusion in BIPC, British Library, 2023 forthcoming
  • Evaluation of the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme, School for Social Entrepreneurs, 2021
  • Sociology of Enterprise, BIS Research Paper 238, BEIS, 2015
  • Formative Evaluation of Growth Accelerator, BIS Research Paper 189, BEIS, 2015
  • Research into Family Businesses, BIS Research Paper 172, BEIS, 2014
  • Economic Evaluation of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, BEIS, 2012

Andy Rowell, Senior Consultant, Ortus Economic Research

Andy is a highly experienced data analyst, researcher and evaluator, with strong experience in the collection, analysis and presentation of data through highly effective visualisations. He has designed, managed and delivered many projects involving the collation, analysis and presentation of a wide range of data sources, both primary and secondary, to inform policy development and evaluation.

Andy was formerly Head of Observatory at Trends Business Research Ltd, leading a team of specialist data analysts and statisticians also responsible for the maintenance and development of TBR’s in-house research database of business information, Trends Central Resource. Prior to joining TBR, he was responsible for the regional programme of research and analysis at Learning and Skills Council North East and subsequently, Young People’s Learning Agency, North East.

Andy has extensive experience of research and evaluation in the area of skills development, education and knowledge transfer. He has designed and led many research studies focused on either identifying policy recommendations in the skills arena or assessing the impact of initiatives to improve skills development.

Andy is an accomplished project manager, having planned and delivered complex and long term projects and having experience of leading collaborative teams.

He has worked across a wide range of policy areas, and has managed and delivered a wide range of relevant projects, including:

  • North East LEP and Innovation SuperNetwork – Evaluation of Challenge North Tyne Innovation Programme
  • Historic England – Heritage Stimulus Fund Evaluation
  • Irish Research Council – Evaluation of the Gender Strategy and Action Plan
  • North of Tyne Combined Authority – Creative and Cultural Investment Programme; Evidence Base
  • Advance HE – An Impact Evaluation of the Athena SWAN Charter
  • Innovate UK – Catapult Review and Evaluation
  • Newcastle University – Campus for Ageing and Vitality Economic Social and Policy Assessment
  • Design Council – Designing a Future Economy
  • Royal Society – Exploring the Impact of Socio-Economic Background on Careers in Science
  • Royal Society – Gender in STEMM
  • Historic England – Regional impact toolkit
  • Crafts Council – Studying Craft

Andrew holds Accredited Researcher status with ONS, and a degree in Communication Studies from Coventry University.

Josh Parsons, Senior Economist, ERS

Josh is a senior economist at ERS, having joined the company in the summer of 2022. He previously worked as an Economic Regeneration Consultant at Capita and studied PPE at the University of Manchester. Josh specialises in Economic Impact Assessments, HM Treasury Green Book compliant Business Cases and Project Evaluations.

At ERS, Josh’s work has included writing the Economic Case for South Tyneside’s Levelling Up Fund bid. This involved forecasting the economic benefits of six projects culminating in the provision of a package BCR. He also conducted an Economic Impact Assessment of a multi-use development in Bournemouth, forecasting key metrics such as job creation and Gross Value Added.

At university, Josh specialised in Economics but worked extensively across both qualitative and quantitative data. He also has experience in econometrics particularly in his dissertation which assessed the impact of campaign donations on congressional members votes on financial regulation.

Example projects include:

  • Economic Value of Isle of Man Freeport (ongoing)
  • AHF Transforming Places Evaluation (2023)
  • Evaluation of the Heritage Stimulus Fund (ongoing)
  • Impact Evaluation of TVCA Education, Employment and Skills Programme, Tees Valley Combined Authority (2023)
  • Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP) Evaluation, Durham University
  • Talbot Village Impact Study, Talbot Village Trust, (2022)
  • South Tyneside Council Levelling Up Fund Bid, South Tyneside Council, (2022)
  • Economic Cases for Crawley Borough Council in partnership with Deyton Bell (2021)
  • Economic Study of North Tyneside’s Fishing Industry, North Tyneside Council (2022)
  • Saville Street Servant Plan, North Tyneside Council
  • Economic Cases for West Northamptonshire Council in partnership with Deyton Bell (2021)

Sam Marshall, Consultant, ERS

Sam has recently joined ERS as a consultant, located at the Bristol office. Prior to ERS, he studied International Development with Economics at the University of bath, having previously achieved a 1st class BA (Hons) Economics from Manchester Metropolitan University. This multidisciplinary path throughout university helped Sam achieve a broad understanding of past and present policy issues, both within the UK and internationally.

His undergraduate dissertation and postgraduate research project built his ability to undertake extensive literature reviews, collect and analyse secondary data, and work on projects over a long period. Furthermore, during his studies he built up a knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods with Econometrics at undergraduate level and Research Methods at postgraduate level.

Alongside his studies, Sam completed a placement as a Research Assistant for Tiyeni, a Malawian charity that looks to improve livelihoods by training farmers in sustainable agriculture. Central to this work, was research into the relationship between children’s education and economic growth within local communities. This built on learning from his university studies on the economic value of education for effective human capital formation and productivity gains.

While at Tiyeni, he worked to develop a social return on investment for the charity. This provided him with experience analysing primary data in the form of quantitative and qualitative survey results, as well as further experience carrying out desk research and report writing.

Example projects include:

  • Network for Nature Evaluation, The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (2020-Ongoing)
  • Review of the economic value of IOM Freeport, Isle of Man Government (2023-ongoing)

Dan Walters, Consultant, ERS

Dan is a consultant at ERS, having joined the company in 2022 after completing a research internship in collaboration with Newcastle University and the Tyne and Wear Archives. Prior to this, Dan studied MA Public History and BA (Hons) History, both at Newcastle University.

During his studies, Dan gained extensive experience collecting and analysing qualitative data, from literature reviews, online databases, and historical documents. He also has experience in conducting and analysing in-depth interviews, particularly within his MA final project, where he assessed the role of the Irish tunnelling community in the construction of the Tyne and Wear Metro. Dan’s previous role as a research assistant means that he can locate and analyse key concepts and translate them into accessible and practical formats. Dan also has experience working alongside a range of stakeholders including the Tyneside Irish Centre, the Tyne and Wear Archives and local communities.

Dan has delivered across a variety of regional and national projects since joining ERS, notably the evaluations of the Tees-Swale Naturally Connected Programme and the Lost Peatland South of Wales Project. This gives Dan a strong understanding of the importance of the restoration of habitats, in addition to the value of upskilling volunteers, communities and children. He is skilled at accurately conducting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data through a variety of mediums, such as interviews, e-surveys, focus groups and workshops. Throughout his time at ERS, Dan has extensive experience of report writing and proposal support, disseminating findings through infographics, written prose and graphs.

Example projects include:

  • Social and Economic Impact Assessment of the British Library Business & IP Centre National Network, British Library
  • Evaluation of the Princes Trust: Better Off in Business Programme, European Regional Development Fund
  • Evaluation of the Tees Swale Naturally Connected programme, North Pennines AONB Partnership and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
  • Evaluation of the Heritage Stimulus Fund Churches Evaluation, Church of England
  • Evaluation of the Lost Peatland South of Wales Project, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
  • Evaluation of ‘The Story’, Durham County Council
  • Evaluation of Advantage Tees Valley, an Office for Students funded project, Teesside University

Additional Project Case Studies from our Portfolios

British Library – Economic Evaluation of British Library Business & IP Centre National Network

The British Library Business and IP Centre Network is a business support offer originating in London in 2005 and expanded across the UK through a network of public libraries in 11 other cities (2019 evaluation). These libraries also form part of the PatLib network managed by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The service is for all stages of business, with a core offer of business databases and IP surgeries and in some cases very extensive wraparound support. Every year the service works with 20,000 people and is free to use.

ERS produced a report detailing the value of working as a network, the reach of the service, service use and user experience and outcomes for users and business impacts. The evidence gathering process involved: (i) field visits to all 12 libraries, observation and interviews with management and delivery staff; (ii) reanalysing monitoring information; (iii) analysing survey responses to an e-survey garnering 1855 responses. Survey analysis involved bottom-up modelling of impacts for each centre (and individual two-page summaries) describing employment, sales and GVA uplift, improvements in productivity and estimation of a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR).

ERS repeated this study in 2023, this time with an expanded network of 20 BIPC Regionals and a second tier of 80 BIPC locals, producing estimates of impact for the network as a whole, as well as for the DCMS investment of £13m. Total net economic benefits were £181m, on the £25m investment, creating a BCR of 7.15.

Oxford Brookes University, University of Reading, University of Oxford, Buckinghamshire New University, University of Bedfordshire, University of Buckingham – Higher National Collaborative Outreach Programme: Operational report and Impact report

The programme was a collaborative network of HE providers working together to deliver outreach activities to inform school pupils about their future educational opportunities. The £3.4m programme was funded by the National Collaborative Outreach Programme aiming to increase the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in HE. Our methodology included 39 in-depth, telephone or face to face interviews with the programme team, strategic & delivery partners across the sector, HELOs and schools, as well as a facilitated workshop with the programme team and focus groups with school pupils. We carried out 14 focus groups, consulting with 72 students, over a 4-month period. Alongside the operational and impact evaluation reports we developed bespoke case studies to highlight how activities have contributed towards impacts for different groups of students. Case studies were designed to reflect the different areas of the Network for Evaluating and Researching University Participation Interventions (NERUPI) Framework, adopted by the programme.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Teesside University – Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme North East & Tees Valley, Evaluations

In February 2021, ERS was commissioned to undertake a Summative Assessment of the Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP), a programme designed to support businesses with an intensive research collaboration with a university partner and a dedicated PhD student working with the company for three years.

As part of this evaluation, we conducted a full process evaluation, impact evaluation and Value for Money assessment across all six of the evaluations, through a careful process of interviews and surveys of programme staff, PhD leads, students and employers.

Department for Business Innovation and Skills – Economic Evaluation of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) is a strand of mainstream government policy introduced in 2009 to support viable businesses to obtain bank loans without security, through the backing of a government guarantee. The report found that EFG was fit for purpose, with 81% of loans being finance additional. Using a comparison group of other borrowers, EFG was found not to have supported business growth, although the new policy adaptation (in response to the financial crisis of 2008) of using the loan as working capital was found to be responsible, with loans issued as investment capital resulting in significant firm growth. A cost benefit analysis found EFG to be generating a societal BCR of 7.1.

North of Tyne Combined Authority, North East LEP and Innovation SuperNetwork – Evaluation of the Challenge North Tyne Innovation Programme

The client commissioned Ortus Economic Research to deliver this evaluation of a challenge-led innovation support programme, targeted at SMEs within the North of Tyne area and operating to two challenge themes: ‘Supporting older people at Home, Work and Play’, and ‘Delivering Energy Efficient, Net Zero Homes’. A well as requiring the standard assessment of process and impact arising from the programme, this evaluation was unusual and novel in that it required an additional assessment of the systemic impact arising from the programme within the innovation and policy ecosystem. Very few publicly funded challenge-led innovation support programmes have been delivered in the North of Tyne (or North East area), and the funding of this programme led to an opportunity to undertake a wider assessment of the benefit and impact of the challenge-led approach presented itself. Ortus was successful in being awarded the project due to the novel methodology proposed, which delivered the expected ‘Green Book’ evaluation of impact, assessed the process of designing and delivering the programme, and evaluated the impact that programme had on the understanding of, and likely future adoption of open innovation approaches.

Newcastle University – ERDF Formative and Summative Evaluation of Creative Fuse North East

Ortus Economic Research was commissioned to deliver the formal ERDF evaluation of the Creative Fuse North East project. The evaluation therefore responded to the needs of the project and its Advisory Board as well as the funder. Delivery of the evaluation requires a range of quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis processes and techniques, drawing evidence from a wide range of stakeholders. These include the central management team at Newcastle University, the Advisory Board, project delivery partners across four Universities, stakeholders across the creative and digital sectors in the North East and beyond, and project beneficiaries. Within the latter category are a large number of generally small creative and digital practitioners, often working as sole practitioners or freelancers. The project reported the formative evaluation in October 2022 and will complete the summative assessment in July 2023 at the point at which the project funding expires.

Newcastle University – Impact Evaluation of NICD

In November 2017, Newcastle University appointed Ortus Economic Research and Cloud Chamber to deliver the three-year impact evaluation of this marquee project for Newcastle University. Along with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), NICD now occupies a brand new building located on Newcastle Helix. From this prestige location, NICD delivers data science and analytics skills into industry and the public sector so that organisations can exploit opportunities for growth created by the range and volume of data now available to them. Central to its model is the process of transferring practical data skills into the workforce through collaborative data skills projects that are led by clients and address real-world challenges faced by those clients. This enabled organisations to increase their business performance and productivity by optimising their existing operations, and to grow by launching new data-driven products and services. The evaluation project’s core aims are to assess the progress against original objectives, measure economic impacts and provide strategic advice to the leadership team in order to maximise the success of the project.

Newcastle University – ERDF Impact Evaluation of the Arrow Innovation Project

Newcastle University began delivering the Arrow Innovation Project in 2018. The project introduced a new model for innovation support in HE. It involves the creation of a specialist team of innovation advisers working with client companies and drawing in academic expertise from across the University. The innovation advisers’ role in delivering the majority of the innovation support means that one of the key barriers to engagement for HE in the field of innovation (the difficulties associated with building relationships between academics and small and medium sized businesses – SMEs) is lowered.

Working in partnership with New Skills Consulting, Ortus is undertaking an independent evaluation of the project. The main aims of the evaluation are to assess the overall effectiveness and impact of the Project; and identify good practice and lessons learned. The evaluation includes desk review of key information and data relating to the project and wider context as well of consultation with key stakeholders. The evaluation evidence and lessons learned will provide the inform the future strategy of the project and the development of similar innovation programmes in addition to shaping the University’s ongoing engagement with the SME community on research and innovation.

Newcastle University – Impact Evaluation of the Campus for Ageing and Vitality

In March 2021, Newcastle University commissioned Ortus ER along with its partners New Skills Consulting and Cloud Chamber to deliver an initial, early-stage assessment of the potential policy, research, economic and social benefits that are likely to arise through the delivery of the Campus for Ageing and Vitality (CAV) project. These initial estimates are required to support the work of Newcastle University and partners in developing the CAV vision, development plans and making applications for funding and other support.

The study called upon a wide range of literature, including all available documentation in relation to the vision and development plans for CAV, desk research in relation to comparable developments and projects (including health-related research) and evidence drawn from consultation with CAV partners and stakeholders. Throughout the assessment, the approach and methods followed accepted procedures for assessing impact (i.e. as set out in the Treasury Green Book).

Irish Research Council – Gender Strategy and Action Plan Evaluation

Ortus Economic Research, working in partnership with Dr Eugenie Hunsicker and Dr Gemma Witcomb from Loughborough University, delivered a review of the IRC Gender Strategy and Action Plan. This important initiative, launched in 2013, is due to be refreshed and therefore a review of the current strategy was deemed to be an important and valuable step. The strategy has two key aims: to support gender equality in research careers across all disciplines and to support the integration of the gender dimension in research content. The review considers the impact of the current strategy, the current and likely future barriers and enablers to advancing gender equality and integrating the gender dimension into research, consideration of similar initiatives being delivered by other research funding agencies and the development of recommendations for any future gender strategy to be developed by the client. The study involved desk research, surveys, depth consultation and focus groups and was published in Spring 2021.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology – Athena SWAN evidence base

Another partnership between Ortus Economic Research and Dr Eugenie Hunsicker at Loughborough University, this study was commissioned to support the EDI Manager at GMIT in generating evidence of the equality and diversity issues faced within the Institute. The prime aim of the study was to feed evidence into the development of an institutional application for an Athena SWAN Bronze award (submitted December 2020). The study has considered all aspects of equality and diversity as well as gender in order to support institutional action in addressing EDI challenges. The project required us to analyse results of a staff survey and run numerous focus groups with academic and professional and support staff in order to create an insightful evidence base. We also provide ongoing guidance and a ‘critical friend’ role to the EDI manager during the application writing stage.

Additional Projects in the higher education sector

Over recent years, our team has also delivered a series of studies for a range of higher education institutions, these include:

  • Skills for Clean Growth Evaluation, University of the West of England
  • Green Skills Evaluation, University of the West of England
  • Evaluation of the Digital Heritage Demonstrator, University of Birmingham
  • Accelerating Business Knowledge Base Innovation Activity, University of Birmingham
  • Biomedical Innovation Hub Evaluation, University of Birmingham
  • Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Cardiff University
  • Demand Analysis for Energy Coast Campus Accommodation, University of Cumbria
  • Innovator for Health and Wellbeing, Durham University
  • Sustainable Construction iNet ERDF Evaluation, University of Northampton
  • Economic Impact Assessment of the University of Plymouth, University of Plymouth
  • Unlocking Potential: Cornwall Enterprise Programme, Plymouth University
  • Community Development Project Evaluation, Sunderland University
  • Evaluation of LEAD Wales Programme and Leading Growth Pilot Project, Swansea University
  • Graduate Enterprise Project ERDF Evaluation, Teesside University
  • Evaluation of the Growing Workforces through Learning and Development, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Three evaluations: BECCI, IPSS and Speed Plus, University of Wolverhampton
  • ESF Convergence Higher Education Programme Evaluation, Cornwall Development Company (Combined Universities of Cornwall – Exeter University, Falmouth University, Plymouth University, Cornwall College and Truro and Penwith College)
  • Evaluation of three ESF Projects, Cornwall College
  • Incubation and Education ERDF Project Evaluation, Leeds College and Partners
  • NET315 Incubation and Education Project Evaluation
  • Fit for Legacy Evaluation, Newham College
  • Building Legacies, Newham College
  • Evaluation of the Pembrokeshire Energy Sector Training Project, Pembrokeshire College
  • Pembrokeshire Skills Demand and Feasibility Study, Pembrokeshire College
  • Mathematical Sciences People Pipeline Project: Quality Information Study, EPSRC
  • Impact assessment of the High Value Manufacturing Centre proposition, Sunderland University