EXCLUSIVE: Future of Renewable Energy Catapult in Glasgow (and UK network) in doubt after scathing external report reveals missed key performance targets

See at foot for  full report
See at foot for full report

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

The achievements of the government’s much-lauded business development ‘catapults’ – including the Glasgow-based Renewable Energy Catapult – has been so poor that no more should be launched.

This is the key finding of a scathing expert independent analysis carried out for the Dept of Business & Energy by management consultants Ernst & Young.

The full Catapult Network Review – co-ordinated and authored by Rob Moody Partner, at EY and UK&I TAS Chief Innovation Officer – listed a catalogue of incompetences.

He said: “Implementation of the Catapult concept has been inconsistent and could have had a significantly greater impact in delivering innovation, economic benefits and value for money that would have been more consistent with the benefits envisaged when the concept was initiated.

“This is because, with a few notable exceptions:

  • There has been no single, commonly agreed and consistently communicated purpose statement for Catapults that has been applied across the network and reflected from strategy through delivery plans to performance measurement and evaluation.
  • IUK governance has not been sufficiently robust, particularly around financial and performance management, with limited evidence of timely intervention where Catapults’ performance targets and wider objectives have not been met (other than in very recent examples).
  • There is limited evidence that Catapults have had effective performance management in place, and:  
  • Catapults have not achieved their funding model expectations as per their envisioned operating models and they remain overwhelmingly reliant on public funding.”

Moody’s report added; ”With the Catapult network’s overall lack of a clearly articulated set of objectives, or a framework for measuring impact, and the current level of operational performance, it is unlikely that the impact of the network overall has been significant so far.

“Hence our view, taking in to account everything we have seen, is that, to date, the Catapult network is unlikely to have provided the benefits and value for money envisaged at the outset.

“Moreover, there is limited evidence of extensive collaboration between Catapults and limited synergies achieved through being part of the Catapult network, which, if addressed, could help make the Catapult brand more effective in the UK.

“In our opinion, there have been too many KPIs and those KPIs have been too focused on inputs, with insufficient emphasis on outputs and outcomes.

“Only HVMC met the 1/3 public (‘Core Grant’ only), 1/3 collaborative R&D and 1/3 commercial funding expectations; all other Catapults were heavily reliant on public funding.

Five Catapults (FCC, TSC, DC, OREC and CGTC) missed their GFA CR&D targets by a total of £25 million.

Although the targets for these Catapults have been revised down by 53% to c.£18.4 million, they have still missed the CR&D funding target by £4.7 million (26%).

The EY report goes on to recommend that the government puts on hold the launch of new Catapults or incorporation of other organisations in the Catapult network until significant progress has been made in addressing the issues raised by this report

And it urges the Business and Energy Minister Greg Clark to ‘make a decision on the future of the Catapult network as soon as possible and by the end of 2017 at the latest, to provide clarity for Catapults, their teams and IUK on the way forward.

Even if the government decides to save the Catapult network, the Ernst & Young report also recommends that any new Catapult chairmen who are subsequently appointed who have ‘demonstrable experience in establishing new businesses, to provide greater confidence”.

The Catapult Network welcomed the findings of the independent Catapult Network Review.

A spokesman said:”Its conclusion is that ‘the concept of Catapults is sound’ and that core funding should continue, subject to the development of a refreshed strategy for the network and a robust framework to drive and measure performance and economic benefit in the UK.

“Catapults are identified as an ‘important and successful part of the UK’s innovation eco-system’ and earmarked for a ‘growing role’ in the newly published Industrial Strategy helping to commercialise new and emerging technologies.

“The Industrial Strategy highlights the success of Catapults in high value manufacturing, offshore renewable energy, transport and digital innovation, and points to the Network’s contribution to the UK’s international reputation in innovation.

“Over the four years that the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has been in operation, it has developed close partnerships with many of the largest players in the offshore renewables industries and supported hundreds of SMEs to develop innovative technologies and built deep relationships with the research community.

“ORE Catapult underwent a comprehensive and independent Catapult Review in the summer and received full endorsement of its strategy and future plans, and remains strongly committed to delivering significant positive impacts for the UK from offshore renewables.”

Catapult Network Review 2017, independent report from Ernst and Young

10:17am, 27 November 2017 First published.

Catapult Network Review by Ernst and Young 2017

28 Nov 2017

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