The Regional Business Partners (RBP) programme was established in 2010. It is a network of 14 regionally based entities – delivery agents or regional partners – that offer support to firms to undertake management capability improvement and research and development (R&D). The programme supports small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The programme costs around $12 million per annum for the RBP business advisors, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Capability Development Vouchers and Callaghan Innovation’s R&D grants.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has conducted this evaluation to provide information on the programme’s operations, processes and impacts. The report will be used by MBIE’s Enterprise Policy team, NZTE and Callaghan Innovation to inform their advice to the Minister for Economic Development on the future of the RBP and their own decisions about the programme.
The evaluation focuses on how the RBP network functions, its impact and how it might be improved. In the interests of brevity, only its impacts and how it might be improved are addressed in the executive summary.
The evaluation information sources are:
- NZTE administrative data on voucher usage, business registrations and training provider services
- documentation from the policy processes that created the programme
- a survey of all businesses that engaged with an RBP in the 2014 financial year (client survey)
- a survey of all RBP business advisors (advisor survey)
- interviews with selected individuals from client firms and training providers, with RBP business advisors and with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation staff.
The impact of R&D grants is out of scope due to the long lag times needed for research to have measurable impact. The evaluation does assess firms’ experience of applying for R&D grants through the RBP programme and the extent the programme leads to increased interaction with Callaghan Innovation.