This report examines the results of a pilot study, which used a method of evaluation called randomised control trials (RCTs) to see if a popular business support scheme called Creative Credits worked effectively. The pilot study, which began in Manchester in 2009, was structured so that vouchers, or 'Creative Credits', would be randomly allocated to small and medium-sized businesses applying to invest in creative projects such as developing websites, video production and creative marketing campaigns, to see if they had a real effect on innovation. The research found that the firms who were awarded Creative Credits enjoyed a short-term boost in their innovation and sales growth in the six months following completion of their creative projects. However, the positive effects were not sustained, and after 12 months there was no longer a statistically significant difference between the groups that received the credits and those that didn’t. The report argues that these results would have remained hidden using the normal evaluation methods used by government, and calls for RCTs to be used more widely when evaluating policies to support business growth.
Network Additionality: By how much did the award of a Creative Credit increase the probability that an SME entered into a new relationship with a creative business? Output Additionality: Probability of innovation, sales growth. Behavioural Additionality: Future innovation intentions, probability of innovation cooperation, Intended future cooperation with creative services providers.
Network Additionality: The quantitative data suggests strong network additionality on receipt of a Creative Credit which is strongly supported by the interviews that took place immediately following the four/five month window within which the Creative Credit projects were completed. Output Additionality: In the six months following the Creative Credits project, there was a marked difference between firms in treatment and control group. Firms in treatment group were significantly more likely to introduce new products or services, or to introduce new process innovations. After 6 months this difference was no longer statistically significant, and even negative for process innovations. For sales, there is a weakly significant difference between the growth rate distributions between control and treatment groups. The percentage difference between average growth rates was even bigger at 12 months but no longer statistically significant. Behavioural Additionality: No significant effect of treatment on firms' intention to innovate in the future, on the probability of them undertaking innovation cooperation, or on intended future cooperation with creative services providers.