Early Impact Evaluation of the Aerospace Technology Institute grant funding programme

Launched in 2013, the civil Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) grant funding programme is a partnership between the civil aerospace industry and government aiming to sustain and achieve competitiveness and market share of the UK aerospace sector through targeted investments in industry-led R&D (higher-risk) projects. The programme provides grant funding for R&D projects with matched contributions from industry. The UK Government has committed £1.95bn up to 2026 to UK aerospace through the ATI R&D programme with the same amount committed by industry as matched-funding.

SQW undertook an early impact evaluation of the ATI programme on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to establish the actual and expected effects of ATI funding on outputs and outcomes. The evaluation used a theory-based assessment – contribution analysis – to test the evidence on early outcomes, whilst considering other factors which may have contributed to the reported outcomes. The evidence was primarily based on 15 case studies of ATI projects. To support the contribution analysis, data from the case studies informed a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) for specific outcomes of interest.

The evaluation concluded that the availability of ATI funding has, to a large extent, led to or encouraged the initiation of projects on new or improved technologies that would not have happened in the absence of ATI funding – or would have done so later, at a reduced scale or overseas. A key lesson for policy from the evaluation is that the strategic approach of the programme was seen to be working. This strategic approach includes the long-term certainty of funding, the focus provided by the aerospace strategy’s priority themes, and the encouragement of considering production plans early. These aspects were viewed as important in supporting UK competitiveness in a global market. The evaluation report is available here.