Improving UK export support

The challenge

UK Trade & Investment needed to develop a robust and comprehensive mechanism to monitor the impact of the export support it provides to UK firms. A key challenge was the need to provide consistent and comparable data for a wide range of different support services and from a diverse variety of business types.

The solution

We worked with UKTI to develop a comprehensive and on-going research programme, the Performance & Impact Monitoring Survey (PIMS). This involves large-scale quarterly CATI surveys, follow-up interviews to gain a longitudinal view, ad hoc qualitative exploration and diagnostic projects, and regular comparison surveys of non-beneficiaries. To date, this has involved around 35,000 business interviews.


By using a tenacious and experienced interviewing team and adopting a rigorous approach to briefing, piloting and quality control, we have been able to consistently exceed the high response rate required for PIMS (50%) with respondents that are typically in very senior positions.

Carefully crafted questions and detailed statistical analysis allow us to accurately estimate the direct financial impact of UKTI support on beneficiary firms (taking account of additionality), as well as the less tangible benefits such as skills improvements, increased innovation, etc.

The questionnaire has been continually developed over the course of the project, and uses complex filtering and text substitution to tailor each interview to the specific circumstances and experiences of each firm, whilst still providing comparable data at the macro level.

PIMS data lies behind much of UKTI’s Performance Management Framework and is used to measure progress against many of the organisation’s targets for both trade development and inward investment. It is also used by UKTI as a key source of evidence to drive service improvement initiatives.

The results also play a valuable role in enhancing UKTI’s profile and reputation on a global level. UKTI recently won the ‘Excellence in Export Development Initiatives' Award at the 8th World Conference of Trade Promotion Organisations, and the successful submission drew heavily on PIMS data to provide evidence of the impact and effectiveness of UKTI support.

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