IGL Projects

IGL is undertaking and supporting a number of randomised trials globally.

How can online-based education be best used to influence pupils to consider an entrepreneurial career? Do the short and long-term impacts of different tools vary?

Entrepreneurial and innovative skills are increasingly needed in today’s labour market. While entrepreneurship training has often concentrated on tertiary education, this project aims to understand the possible advantages of starting entrepreneurship education earlier.  The trial will test different online-based entrepreneurship programmes to a sample of 3,000 pupils in their ninth year of schooling.

Pupils will randomly be placed into one of two treatment groups or control group. The first treatment group will be offered a two-week experimental entrepreneurship course where students will be requested to perform daily challenges. The second treatment group will receive an entrepreneurship course around role models, with presentations from successful entrepreneurs. The effects of the different programmes will be measured using data on attitudes towards entrepreneurship, career intentions, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy after intervention, as well as measures such as educational performance and occupation 12 months after intervention.

Can subtle non-monetary nudges be used to influence intrapreneurial behaviour in a large corporation?

Intrapreneurship, or bottom-up entrepreneurial activities by employees from existing firms, can be an important source of innovation and organisational growth. Management of intrapreneurship, however, is highly complex as it is typically considered discretionary behaviour and is generally not formalised in job descriptions.  Innovation competitions is one way to stimulate this type of behaviour within firms

Working with a large multinational, this RCT will explore subtle, non-monetary cues to encourage this intrapreneurial behaviour using such an innovation competition. 722 employees will be divided into three treatment groups and one control group. Groups will be treated with different opt-in versus opt-out style invitations to the contest as well as application of ‘peer-effects’ for some groups, using a flyer with examples of successful intrapreneurs from previous company contests.

Using a combination of experimental and survey data, as well as qualitative data from interviews, managerial evaluations and HR data, the effects of the different nudges on the number and quality of the intrapreneurial activities, from idea generation to market phase, will be analysed.

What makes teams effective in early-stage entrepreneurship—their composition, or the topics they explore?

Although society is pouring money into entrepreneurial teams, there is surprisingly little evidence on whether these initiatives are effective in fostering successful entrepreneurial outcomes. This trial aims to gain a better understanding of what factors differentiate successful from non-successful entrepreneurial teams.

The trial will focus on a Business and Entrepreneuship class at a German University. The students must work in teams to create a business plan. The intervention will randomly allocate students to endogenously selected or exogenously assigned teams and an endogenously selected or exogenously assigned business topic.

The impact of these interventions on early entrepreneurial success will be measured through teams’ business plan performance, which will be assessed by both internal and external evaluators. These findings will be complemented by survey data, which speak to other dimensions of team selection and performance.

In the rapidly growing world of crowdfunding, what factors drive the investment process of early-stage investors? How do investors choose which start-up to fund?

A large and growing literature demonstrates the impact of early stage investments on start-up success and the factors that affect the terms of financing. But, what factors drive the investment process of early-stage investors, that is, how do they choose which start-up to fund? While this issue is often debated among academics and practitioners, there is little systematic, non-survey evidence on the selection process of early stage investors. This stands in sharp contrast to the wealth of evidence on investment decisions in public equity markets by institutional and retail investors. This project attempts to fill part of this gap.

By monitoring Seedrs, a European online equity investment platform that matches start-ups and angel investors, this trial observes start-up companies at the stage at which they approach investors to raise capital through the site. Using randomly chosen categories of information which are first presented to a potential investor, this trial exploits the variation across angels’ reactions within each start-up.

Research confirms that business coaching is core to most incubation and acceleration programmes. Business coaching combines aspects of teaching, training, mentoring, and consulting and creates a general support approach for early-stage technology ventures. It has been identified as a key attribute to the impact of an early-stage venture team’s performance. 

This randomized controlled trial seeks to provide evidence for the effect of business coaching on technology-based venture teams. By recording the teams' survival and economic performance, the research aims to identify methods for increasing and improving the effectiveness of business coaching. 

A pragmatic two-armed randomized controlled trial will test the effect of business coaching on the survival capabilities of technology-based ventures. Over a period of three years, the trial will recruit 450 ventures from the German regional state Baden-Württemberg. The project delivery partner bwcon GmbH will provide accredited, experienced coaches who will impart tactical knowledge to the founder teams in the form of individual support sessions. The treatment group for this trial comprises of 150 startups, with around fifty teams subjected to the intervention each year. Another 300 ventures act as the control group, having not received business coaching. Each venture's development is tracked on a half yearly base. After three years, the trial will compare the ventures' survival capability. 

To what extent does commitment and reporting to others affect entrepreneurial outcomes?

Recent research into the effects of business accelerators on new ventures' performance speculates that entrepreneurs may benefit from the existence of “structured accountability”, a process by which founders are required to periodically express their strategic plans and progress in front of others. This idea is based on anecdotal evidence from business accelerator participants, who have perceived value from the hierarchical structure imposed by the programme.  Of particular interest is the idea that the appeal of job independence, which drives entrepreneurs, may actually work against them in terms of performance achievement.

To test this theory, this RCT will conduct an experiment on a balanced sample of 360 early-stage business accelerator participant startups. Treated participants are randomly chosen and given monthly structured accountability sessions for six months. At the end of the intervention, this trial will quantify the performance of startups by measuring their survival, the number of jobs created, the capital raised and sales.

Is it possible to design and conduct a randomised control trial of one of the business support services delivered by the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub?

NatCen and New Economy received a Design Grant from the Innovation Growth Lab in order to conduct a study to examine which Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub business support services are most likely to make a growing contribution to the city-region’s economic vitality as well as be amenable to a rigorous test of their impact through implementing a carefully designed randomised controlled trial.

In light of the practical challenges implementing an RCT to evaluate an existing Business Growth Hub service that we uncovered in the course of this feasibility study, the aims of the study shifted to focus more broadly on the challenges the Business Growth Hub face in incorporating an RCT evaluation into their current monitoring and evaluation practices, suggesting possible strategies for overcoming these challenges and providing an example trial protocol that could be adapted to suit an evaluation of a future Business Growth Hub service. As such this study is primarily designed to inform programme commissioners and service managers within the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub, however it also contains valuable lessons learned applicable to programme originators more broadly, commissioners of research and researchers interested in evaluation in general.

Is it possible or desirable to charge a positive price for entrepreneurship programmes?

How should business training programmes be priced? Billions of dollars are spent subsidising entrepreneurship programmes around the world, and most of these programmes are offered for free in developing countries. However it is not clear that offering these programmes for free to everyone is the optimal solution. Firstly, charging a positive price could help screen those entrepreneurs with the highest returns from the programme. Second, entrepreneurs paying a positive price might be more likely to attend the training, to exert more effort in the learning process and to adopt the practices recommended by the programme. Finally, a positive price can help providers of the entrepreneurship programme improve financial sustainability.

This project is the first RCT to estimate the demand for a business training programme. It will provide valuable lessons about the possibility and desirability to charge a positive price for these programmes. The trial will estimate the demand for entrepreneurship programmes in Jamaica by eliciting willingness to pay (WTP) for an entrepreneurship programme using a variation of the BDM mechanism. It will estimate returns to the programme and test whether those returns vary with WTP. Conclusions from this experiment will be of great policy value to determine whether WTP can be used to better target business training programmes.


To what extent does patent protection change product market outcomes?

The granting of patent rights is a central public policy tool to incentivise innovation, but the incentive that patents offer works indirectly. Rather than directly subsidising R&D costs (as in other mechanisms, such as tax credits), or attempting to make up for any differences between the public and private incentives to research, patents provide incentive through product market protection.

This project aims to provide the first experimental evidence of the market protection that patents provide. In particular, do products protected by patents face fewer competitor products? Do they achieve higher market shares? Higher profit margins?


The High Impact Entrepreneurship Program aims to provide support to Mexican SMEs through a matching grant scheme to support their development and increase their capabilities to succeed.

The targeted firms are start-ups and scale-up firms that offer an innovative product, service or business model with high potential to compete globally and generate high impact in economic, social and environmental outcomes. Through a randomized controlled trial, this project will investigate the overall impact of the program on firms’ performance measured by outcomes such as productivity, sales, job creation and innovation. This trial will also randomize across two different sets of selection panels to select beneficiaries, one panel that has no reason to be biased but does not have industry experience, and one panel that is potentially biased but has industry experience. This will contribute to a better understanding of how to implement matching grants programs by improving selection criteria, procedures and targeting strategy.


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