Creating a Tech Tracker with Innovate UK

Creating a Tech Tracker with Innovate UK

Information flows: Helping Innovate UK understand the evolution of emerging technologies

Madano’s Insights practice has helped Innovate UK to track, classify and compare the dissemination of a range of emerging technologies across industry, academia and the wider public. Using big data, the pilot project has allowed the innovation agency to understand how dissemination events – references to a technology in a public setting – happen, and what they can tell us about emerging technologies.

As a result, Innovate UK has increased its understanding of the relationship between funded technologies and dissemination events, and how that relationship compares with that of unfunded technologies, helping the organisation to identify strategic funding opportunities in the future.


Categorising dissemination events

One of the key elements of the project’s analysis was the development of a typology of different dissemination events. Using cutting-edge machine learning modelling, Insights created a categorisation of events based on the source of the mention of a specific technology. Exploratory analysis made it clear that the dissemination of a technology can happen in various ways, and that each of these dissemination events indicates very different forms of dissemination. For example, the mention of a technology in an academic publication represents something very different from the mention of the same technology in a market report or a mainstream newspaper, all of which need a different interpretation.

Dissemination events were broken down into five categories:

Innovate UK - Dissemination event typology

Knowledge dissemination: Where the focus is to expand the knowledge of a technology, as in academic publications, edits to a Wikipedia page or other educational material.

Industry awareness: Where there are signs of the industry picking up an interest in the technology. Examples would be mentions in trade media, industry events or specific adoptions of the technology.

General awareness: Where the likely key audience is the general public. This can include mentions in mainstream news media, larger social media accounts or visits to a relevant Wikipedia page.

Commercial dissemination: Mentions in market reports, market research and announcements of funding and investment decisions.

Marketing: Any owned channel marketing material about companies’ products or services related to technology.


Dissemination events help to track technological maturity

Technologies are often characterised by a typical pattern of evolution, from conceptualisation, through commercialisation and ultimately to widespread awareness. Take, for example, solar panels, which began with periods of solely academic attention, then graduated to industry awareness before finally becoming an established part of the general media.

So, considering the source of a technology’s dissemination event can help to understand its level of maturity, where a technology is being discussed is as important as how often it is being mentioned.


Dissemination events enable the comparison and evaluation of changes in different technologies

By understanding the trajectory of a specific technology, Madano was able to not only track its evolution but also compare and contrast it with other technologies. Analysing dissemination events allowed Madano to evaluate changes in emerging technologies as they were prioritised by academia, industry and the mainstream media.

To facilitate the comparison of various technologies, Madano created a dissemination score, combining the number of different events recorded for each technology into a single score, which estimated the overall extent of dissemination. This score was developed to be flexible and allow the weighting given to dissemination event categories to vary depending on specific objectives; in the case of Innovate UK, some programmes needed to prioritise knowledge creation, while others focused on industry awareness.

Innovate UK - Dissemination score schema


This score facilitated the comparison of the dissemination of technologies over time.


Innovate UK - Technology dissemination score over time


The pilot – gathering and processing dissemination data

From the general list of successful Innovate UK grant applicants, Madano selected a subset of technology competitions through which business can apply for grants for their innovative projects, defined the technology areas and took publicly available big data associated with the technologies of Innovate UK applicants.

This enabled us to categorise data points into discrete dissemination events detailing the nature of each dissemination. The data was subsequently incorporated into a dashboard which allowed for the interrogation and comparison of dissemination events based on user queries.

The pilot included 10 different energy technologies associated with applications for funding received by Innovate within the past couple of years. At the end of the pilot, Madano successfully demonstrated how to use big data to understand knowledge dissemination events for policy analysis.

“This project has been invaluable in demonstrating how we can conceptualise and measure the trajectory of technologies over time using big data,” said Jose Argudo, Evaluation Lead at Innovate UK. “I’m really excited about the potential applications of this approach in innovation policy analysis.”

“Although the framework we’ve developed was used to track technological dissemination in this instance,” said Mathias Haugestad, Data Analytics Developer at Madano, “it can be applied to a range of other areas, including tracking mentions of brands, institutions and people, or even fields of knowledge more broadly.”


The Madano Insights team specialises in capturing insights that make a difference to your business. Through a strategic and communications-focused approach, we make the most of big data and innovative insights to complement and contextualise quantitative analytics.


If you’re interested in understanding how to use big data to improve the measurement and tracking of KPIs related to your communications strategies, get in touch!

Madano wins the Bronze AMEC Innovation Award

Madano wins the Bronze AMEC Innovation Award

Last week, our Insights team won the Bronze AMEC Innovation Award for new measurement methodologies for our work improving the reach and impact of scientific publications.

The AMEC Awards celebrate exceptional works and showcase the importance of research, measurement, insights, and analytics. This informs client strategies and drives the delivery of meaningful and impactful communications.

Our new approach measures the success of scientific publications more effectively, shifting client mindsets to readdress key fundamental questions, such as who publications are for and what value they have.

We’re incredibly proud of this achievement. Insights and evidence are core to our work at Madano, allowing us to maximise the impact of our clients’ communications.

The Madano Insights team specialises in capturing those strategic insights that make the difference for your business. Get in touch with us at:

Madano shortlisted for two AMEC Awards

Madano shortlisted for two AMEC Awards

We’re incredibly proud to announce we’ve been shortlisted for two AMEC Awards:

  1. Innovation award for new measurement methodologies for our work with Novo Nordisk, improving the reach and impact of scientific publications.
  2. Young Professional of the Year – our very own Tara Lohmann.

The AMEC Awards celebrate exceptional works and showcase the importance of research, measurement, insights, and analytics.

“We’re so excited to receive the acknowledgement from AMEC in being shortlisted for two awards – it’s a real testament to the Insights team’s value-creating work and innovative thinking, and particularly Tara’s input into this. I’m incredibly proud of Tara for being recognised as a finalist in the Young Professional of the Year category.” Hanna Williams, Research Director

Watch our video submission below:

See the shortlisted candidates here.

The Madano Insights team specialises in capturing insights that make a difference to your business. Through a strategic and communications-focused approach, we make the most of big data and innovative insights to complement and contextualise quantitative analytics.

Our Insights practice is growing. To join a dynamic and passionate team within a purpose-driven culture, visit our careers page here.

Come and join our growing Insights team!

Come and join our growing Insights team!

Madano is looking for a driven Social Data Scientist who will play a key role in the delivery of research and key innovation projects.

Madano is committed to building a better world through intelligent and creative communications, which are firmly rooted in evidence and insight. But what does that mean actually mean? We simplify complexity, enabling individuals and organisations to make informed decisions on the issues that matter. Our work is underpinned by our insights capabilities, which allow us to provide evidence-based, intelligence-led strategies and plans.

This is an opportunity to join a high-performing team who know how to get results, but also how to have fun along the way. For more information on this vacancy and to apply, please click here.


Why publish real world evidence? Maximising the reach and impact of journal articles

Why publish real world evidence? Maximising the reach and impact of journal articles

How can we know what kind of impact the communications outputs we publish are having on our target audiences? Are they cutting through the noise to affect beliefs and behaviours?

In previous blogs, our sister agency AXON have identified an upward trend in the volume of publications presenting real world evidence (RWE) in healthcare journals. This trend was observed irrespective of the impact factor of the journal, which calls into question our industry’s reliance on impact factor when evaluating the reach and impact of published data. So how can we better understand which articles are effective?

The team at Madano have been working closely with AXON and their clients to try and find a more satisfactory answer to the question of impact. While we’re little a way off a definitive answer, we are now able to provide a much more nuanced and client-specific assessment of the value of a publication plan – at brand and therapy area level.

Our starting point was to take a step back and ask: what are our publications for? Addressing this more fundamental question soon had us and our clients thinking differently and we were able to build ‘theories of change’ for individual publication plans – i.e. a framework that articulates the changes in beliefs and behaviours we want our publications to trigger in our target audiences, and the outcomes that need to be measured to detect these changes.

Based on this framework, we are able to build a bespoke model of impact for each client. First, we identified all of the outcomes clients hope that publications could influence; for example, raising awareness of particular biomarkers or improving front-line practice. We then identified data sources that could act as proxies for these outcomes; for example, volume and nature of social media engagement using specific terminology, or seeing publications referenced in treatment guidelines.

To really assess the impact of an individual publication or publication plan as a whole, we needed to situate outcomes associated with our clients’ publications within the broader competitive landscape. To do this, our data science team have built web harvesting scripts to capture the specified outcomes for all publications within a given disease area – a total of around 14,000 across the last five years for psoriasis, for example. We then visualised this landscape as a topic map, highlighting high-frequency and high-impact topics, and comparing average impact scores for groups of publications to benchmark client performance.

The insights this approach generates provide huge value to publications teams and should be the foundation for designing a RW publication strategy. It can help you:

  • Identify gaps in the landscape that, if filled, would create the most impact;
  • Maximise a publication’s impact with key audiences by making informed decisions about author, journal and topic selection;
  • Measure relative performance against your competitors and identify the most effective types of article or outputs for your different audiences;
  • Deliver consistent reporting showing the overall value of each of your publications and their contribution to broader medical objectives.

This bespoke approach delivers a more nuanced answer to the question of publication impact. It generates insights that drive future strategy and tactical decisions to improve reach, engagement and impact. If you would like to hear more about how our approach can support your RWE publication efforts, please get in touch here.

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What are universities for? Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis and rebuilding for the future

What are universities for? Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis and rebuilding for the future

In April this year, Madano reported on the challenging situation faced by the UK’s universities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likening the sector’s difficult circumstances to a game of Kerplunk in which all of the straws have suddenly been removed, we predicted that “a university degree could be a tough sell to the 2020/21 intake who may consider a gap year instead.”

That reads like a real understatement following recent events at Manchester Metropolitan University. Students at the campus described themselves as “completely neglected” after they were forced to self-isolate for two weeks when 127 of them tested positive for COVID-19. The situation left 1,700 students all trying to source food – and, more importantly for them, alcohol – from the same local supermarkets. Security guards prevented residents from going outside to shop amid complaints of “little in the way of pastoral care”.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, is also less of a fan of the university experience than some of his predecessors. He recently ditched the target, introduced by New Labour and adopted by successive governments, of 50 per cent of young adults going into higher education, replacing it with a focus on further education and vocational training.

Accusing universities of failing to prepare graduates for the UK workforce, he said: “For too long, we’ve been training people for jobs that don’t exist. We need to train them for the jobs that do exist and will exist in the future. We have to end the focus on qualifications for qualifications’ sake.” And, this week, prime minister Boris Johnson finally delivered on recommendations from the Augar Review into post-16 education, pledging to end the gulf between further and higher education, commenting:

“We seem on the one hand to have too few of the right skills for the jobs our economy creates, and on the other hand too many graduates with degrees which don’t get them the jobs that they want.”

The prime minister and education secretary’s comments chime with the sentiments of a couple of recently published books. Both political philosopher Michael Sandel – in The Tyranny of Merit – and journalist David Goodhart – in Head, Hand, Heart – argue that it’s time to reassess our notions of success and failure, and particularly how they relate to higher education and work.

And last month, Stefan Collini, professor emeritus of intellectual history at the University of Cambridge, delivered a withering assessment of the UK’s higher education sector:

“Universities are overcrowded and understaffed; contact hours are reduced; most teaching in the first two years is done by temporary and part-time staff; and underprepared students suffer debilitating stress. Moreover, instead of reliably leading to a better job, all it guarantees is a higher tax bill for the next 30 years.”

As a number of voices begin to question the actual purpose of universities, many institutions may need to adapt by reframing what they stand for and the benefit they deliver to society.


Despite mounting challenges, there are still opportunities for universities to thrive. One possibility is the government’s levelling up agenda, which promises to redirect investment to regions outside London and the south-east. Keen to retain its newly won “red wall” across the Midlands and the north of England, the present administration is likely to welcome potential development in those areas.

Universities have a real opportunity to play a central role in transforming their local area, whether through forging partnerships with local authorities and businesses, providing students with the skills needed for the region to thrive or persuading students to live and work in the area following graduation. Showing their commitment to their community in this way would allow universities to demonstrate their ongoing relevance and value in what is likely to remain an unpredictable environment for the foreseeable future.

What students want

As discussed by Sandel and Goodhart in their respective publications, traditional academic criteria provide a limited measure of an individual’s overall knowledge, skills and intelligence.

In fact, Madano’s own research into the higher education sector has found that students are seeking to acquire more tangible skills that they can apply directly to the workplace, and often in more practical disciplines.

Today’s students regard employment at the end of a degree as a given. Considering the huge amount of money they’re expected to shell out in tuition fees and the tens of thousands of pounds of debt they’re destined to graduate with, is it any wonder?

Given the current expectation that a degree will inevitably lead to a job, perhaps it’s time for universities to improve the vocational support they offer students beyond simply academic preparation. Many already give advice on job applications and interview skills to improve undergraduates’ chances of securing a position once they’ve completed their studies, but they could develop this offer and make it available to a greater number of students.

Aside from traditional employment, there could be an opportunity for universities to broaden their role by encouraging greater entrepreneurship and helping students to help themselves. By advising students how to set up their own company and putting young entrepreneurs in touch with potential partners, the higher education sector could recast itself as a genuine friend to business and safeguard its continuing relevance.

Rearticulating purpose

More than at any other time in recent history, the value and purpose of universities are being questioned right across the political spectrum. Outside of the familiar top-tier names, universities need to reassess and rethink why they do what they do and then rearticulate that concept in a way that speaks to students and meets wider societal objectives, keeping both government and the general public on side.

Universities that are agile, maintain two-way communication with their student body and take advantage of the current government agenda are likely to be best positioned to take the lead in shaping the sector as it moves forward.

By Dan Townshend, Senior Research Manager in Madano’s Insights practice.

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