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Engaging with Evidence is a series of interactive online convenings hosted by the GO Lab and designed to encourage a greater understanding of the latest evidence on the use of cross-sector partnerships focused on outcomes. Launched in 2021, this webinar series offers an open platform for policymakers, practitioners and researchers around the world to engage with key findings from the latest research and evaluation work in the field. Participants have the opportunity to:

  • discuss new evidence directly with the authors of research and evaluation studies; 
  • hear the practical insights of the partners involved in the development and implementation of the projects under discussion; and 
  • reflect on the relevance of the evidence to their own work.

Building independent, high-quality evidence

At the GO Lab we believe in the importance of building independent, high-quality evidence and disseminating it effectively to inform policy decisions and improve practice on the ground. As new evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches is starting to emerge, we hope that with this series of online convenings we can continue to bridge the gap between evidence and practice. The series aims to foster real dialogue between policymakers, practitioners and researchers in an honest, transparent and constructive way. Both veterans and explorers interested in better understanding the latest evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches are welcome to join these sessions.

What to expect

Each session will last 90 minutes and will feature a distillation of key findings, reflections from a diverse panel of experts, as well as ample time for contributions and questions from all participants. Topics that we will explore as part of this series include: lessons from Latin America around building a SIB ecosystem, evidence from the implementation of development impact bonds in low- and middle- income countries, insights from the experience with impact bonds in the UK, insights around the use of social outcomes contracting in Europe, learning from the design and implementation of outcomes funds. 

Our sessions are chaired by Andreea Anastasiu, Head of Partnerships and Engagement (GO Lab), and Srinithya Nagarajan, Policy Engagement and Communications Associate (GO Lab). All sessions are free to attend and open to all, but will be of particular interest to policymakers and other practitioners interested in developing sustainable, system-wide outcomes-based approaches.  

Upcoming Sessions

Session Overview

In this session we will explore the lessons learnt from the development and implementation of the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) Humanitarian Impact Bond (HIB). We will be joined for this session by experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the International Institute for Management Development, and the University of Oxford.

Participants to the session will have the opportunity to:

  • learn more about the implementation of the HIB programme and the results achieved;
  • hear from those involved in the programme as to their reflections on the impact, legacy, and lessons learnt from delivering the programme through an innovative funding model (impact bond), and
  • explore with development and social finance experts how the experience of the ICRC HIB can help inform practice in the humanitarian sector more broadly.

The ICRC Humanitarian Impact Bond was launched in 2017 to help transform the way vital services for people with disabilities are financed in conflict-hit countries. This was a 5-year programme delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross to build and operationalise three new physical rehabilitation centres in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. The initial funding was provided by social investors, such as Bank Lombard Odier and New Re, and ultimately reimbursed through a payment-by-result agreements by outcome funders, including the governments of Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom and "La Caixa" Foundation.

Despite multiple setbacks including two political coup d’états and a national strike in Mali and an attack on the electricity supply in Maiduguri, Nigeria, by insurgents, as well as more routine challenges in operationalising the new centres, the HIB implementers have succeeded in opening all three centres. The final results of the programme showed that the centres are nearly 10% more efficient than the benchmark centre in terms of time management, staff members skills, management of stock and resources. These criteria and essential elements such as the quality of care and the satisfaction of the patients were the key factors that helped determine the level of success of the HIB.

Past sessions

Session overview

In this session we explored the final results of the Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (DIB). This programme was set up in 2018 to support education providers in India to improve learning outcomes for 200,000 primary school children aged 5-11 across Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. This is the largest education DIB deployed in the world. It brings together a broad coalition of private, not-for-profit, and public sector partners in India. According to the final results report, the programme managed to outperform its outcome targets over the last 4 years. It also contributed to further close the learning gap experienced by some students during the pandemic.

For this discussion we were joined by experts involved in the implementation and evaluation of the Quality Education India programme, as well as a range of leading practitioners from the education finance sector. We will explore with our guest speakers what the lessons coming out of the Quality Education India programme can tell us about how to tackle global challenges in funding education and how to improve education systems effectively.

Some key findings from the Quality Education India report include:

  • Increased levels of learning, despite the COVID-19 pandemic: Students in the programme learned 2.5 times more than those in non-participating schools.
  • Shifting to an outcomes-based funding approach can be a catalyst for change: Education providers were able to create a step change in learning outcomes achievement compared to their previous grant programmes. Factors which helped drive this success included robust performance management, regular engagement with each education provider and flexibility in funding and approach.
  • Funders got better impact because they were paying for outcomes: The actual price per outcome was 46% lesser than the original expected price, suggesting that DIBs can provide better value for money for funders.
  • The investor achieved the targeted return: The investor, UBS Optimus Foundation received a return of 8% on its investment, suggesting that impact focussed investors can make a return, whilst assuming the responsibility for implementation and the associated risk in such programmes.

For the thirteenth session of Engaging with Evidence, we explored the latest findings from the evaluation of the UK's Commissioning Better Outcomes (CBO) Fund.

For this discussion we were joined by the authors of the CBO third update report, as well as a range of other experienced practitioners and researchers. During the session we focused on the six core characteristics of the social impact bonds (SIBs) supported through the CBO Fund (as synthesised in the report under the SIB Hexagon framework), and explored how the underlying motivations for developing a SIB project influence these characteristics, and how in turn they influence the delivery and impact of SIB projects.

We explored with our guest speakers practical examples of how these characteristics evolve over the course of designing and implementing a SIB, and looked at the inherent tensions and trade-offs when developing these projects, and the benefits that these characteristics or design choices can bring to the project. We also reflected on what the findings of the report mean for those designing and implementing outcomes-focused programmes in the UK and internationally.

For the twelfth Engaging with Evidence session, we explored the key conditions and competencies that enable successful delivery of outcomes-based partnerships.

In the session, we took stock of existing frameworks for assessing the readiness of government and service providers to engage in outcomes-based partnerships, and shared findings from a recent review conducted by Social Finance UK in partnership with the Government Outcomes Lab. The review builds on existing evidence and practice to develop two coherent and comprehensive frameworks for assessing the readiness of eco-systems and service provider organisations respectively, to engage in outcomes-based partnerships. Providing tools to map the necessary competencies is crucial in identifying and better understanding gaps and in informing a substantive capacity-building agenda for policy-makers, donors and funders to use.


Frameworks: Engaging in outcomes-based partnerships: Frameworks to support ecosystem and service provider readiness (Social Finance and Government Outcomes Lab)

Introductory guide: Outcomes-based contracting (Government Outcomes Lab)

Session recording

For the eleventh Engaging with Evidence webinar session, we explored insights from the Village Enterprise Development Impact Bond (DIB), a poverty alleviation project in Uganda and Kenya.

Drawing on a recent report by IDinsight, the session explored the learnings and final results from the project, as well as highlight practitioner experiences. This session sought to understand key stakeholders’ experiences around delivering the project. Our guest panelists reflected on the application of outcomes-based funding to poverty alleviation interventions, project adaptation to COVID-19, and the use of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) for measurement and evaluation.


Case study: Village Enterprise DIB (Government Outcomes Lab)

Case study: Village Enterprise Development Impact Bond: A case study produced as part of the evaluation of FCDO’s Development Impact Bond Pilot Programme (Ecorys & Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Introductory guide: Impact bonds (Government Outcomes Lab)

Blog: Surviving the storm of the pandemic – lessons from the Village Enterprise Development Impact Bond (Laura Bonsaver, Government Outcomes Lab)

For the tenth Engaging with Evidence webinar session, we explored the use of outcomes-based funding within education interventions in India.

We invited a group of guest panellists to discuss some of the key takeaways from a recent report by Dalberg, and discuss broader lessons around the cost effectiveness of outcomes-based funding and its impact on accountability. As the Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (QEI DIB), set up in 2018 to support education providers in India, is coming to an end, this report serves to draw broader lessons for outcomes-based financing ecosystem in education in India.


Report: Summary report: Understanding cost effectiveness of education interventions in India: a key step towards outcomes-based financing (Dalberg, UBS Optimus Foundation, British Asian Trust)

Case study: Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (Government Outcomes Lab)

Guide: Introductory guide: outcomes-based contracting (Government Outcomes Lab)

Blog: Learning outcomes at all costs – is outcomes-based funding in the education sector a smart buy? (Laura Bonsaver, Government Outcomes Lab)

Session recording

This session drew on recent research from Government Outcomes Lab and the Sorbonne Business School in Paris (IAE) to explore the role of cross-sector partnerships and innovative financing tools in supporting refugees.

We shared learnings from two innovative yet different approaches used in Finland and France within employment and housing.

The KOTO project was launched in Finland as the world’s first social impact bond to support refugees into employment. It illustrates the potential of outcomes contracts to convene government, the social sector, and investors around shared objectives. Meanwhile, the Hemisphere project in France aimed at providing accommodation to refugees and asylum seekers and demonstrates innovation in public private partnerships. The session combined key learnings from both cases with views from practitioners and engaged researchers.


Introductory guide: Outcomes-based contracting (Government Outcomes Lab)

Find out more: Social Outcomes Contracting (European Investment Advisory Hub's Social Outcomes Contracting Platform)

Find out more: KOTO SIB

Case study: KOTO SIB (European Investment Advisory Hub's Social Outcomes

Contracting Platform)

Case study: Hemisphere project (European Investment Advisory Hub's Social Outcomes

Contracting Platform)

Blog: The global refugee system is broken. Can innovative financing and cross-sector collaborations help fix it? (Tanyah Hameed, Government Outcomes Lab)

This session investigated the use of outcomes contracting as a potential approach to foster cohesive cross-sector collaborations to improve social outcomes.

We drew on Government Outcomes Lab’s recently published interim report on the Kirklees Integrated Support Service and Better Outcomes Partnership, which outlines four hypothesised features of social impact bonds that are expected to improve service delivery.

The Kirklees project aims to support adults who face barriers to living independently and who have historically experienced poor and fragmented provision from lots of different parts of the state and voluntary sector – benefits, housing, mental health, sometimes criminal justice system. This case illustrates the wider potential of outcomes contracts as a structure to support an important coordination or ‘orchestration’ role across a complex set of local provider organisations.

The session combined these emerging research insights with views from practitioners and engaged researchers, focussing on addressing fragmentation in public services and building holistic ecosystems of support.


Report: The Kirklees Integrated Support Service Social Impact Bond evaluation report (Government Outcomes Lab)

Guide: Introduction to outcomes based contracting (Government Outcomes Lab)

Book summary: Measuring social change summary note (Alnoor Ebrahim, Tufts University)

Video: Measuring social change (Tufts Talks, Tufts University)

Blog: Service fragmentation in social services - how can ecosystem orchestrators and outcomes contracts help? (Tanyah Hameed, Government Outcomes Lab)

After our summer break, the Engaging with Evidence series returned with a deep dive session on lessons learnt from key stakeholders of the Cameroon Kangaroo Mother Care DIB.

The Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Development Impact Bond (DIB) was launched in February 2019 to improve neonatal health outcomes in ten public hospitals across five regions in Cameroon through the delivery of quality Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). Addressing the high rate of under-five mortality in Cameroon, KMC is an intervention for saving and caring for infants by administering continuous skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and early discharge from hospital with follow-up. As the programme came to an end in September 2021, those involved in the delivery of the programme undertook a multi-stakeholder learning exercise to reflect on the DIB’s decision-making and governance structures, data and learning mechanisms, financial structure, management systems, and how to sustain impact after the DIB.

In this session, we explored what the key lessons were for the stakeholders involved in this programme, what results were achieved, what comes next after the DIB, and what this might tell us about the potential to use outcomes-based approaches to introduce and scale social interventions.


Case study: Cameroon Kangaroo Mother Care Development Impact Bond (Government Outcomes Lab)

Report: Cameroon KMC DIB end of programme report 2018-2021 (Social Finance)

[French version]: Obligation à impact sur le développement pour la MMK au Cameroun 2018-2021 (Social Finance)

Report: Changing Lives, Changing Systems: Building routes to scale (Social Finance)

Blog: Scaling and sustaining the impact of a development impact bond programme – what does it take? (Laura Bonsaver, Government Outcomes Lab)

Session recording

For the sixth session of our Engaging with Evidence series, we brought together academic and practitioner perspectives to reflect on the role of outcomes-based financing and impact bonds in building resilient services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Date: 14 June 3:30-5:00pm BST

Covid-19 has exacerbated gaps in financing and delivery of public services. Across the world, there is a need to respond to growing demand pressures but governments’ abilities to do so are constrained by adverse effects on already-stretched public finances and government operations. While outcomes-based financing and impact bonds have recently gained traction as helpful tools, can their strengths be channeled towards post-pandemic recovery?

We invited leading experts to reflect on the resilience of outcomes-based contracting during Covid-19 and their role in post-pandemic recovery. This discussion was built on recent research from the Government Outcomes Lab and the World Bank, discussing the opportunities these tools can bring as well as complications that need to be addressed.


Session recording

For the fifth session of the Engaging with Evidence series, we took stock of the state of play of social outcomes contracts in Europe and discussed with policymakers and other leading experts how and when this instrument can best be used to help address complex social problems.

We were joined by a group of expert policymakers and leading practitioners from around Europe to take stock of the state of play on SOCs in the continent. Together, we reflected on how this model is being adapted in different contexts and sought to understand how these financing mechanisms can be best applied. To recognise some of the practical considerations for successful development and implementation of SOCs, we looked at some of the countries that have been leading the way with SOCs in Europe, and explored the drivers, success factors and constraints underpinning these initiatives.

The session drew on practitioners' insights and data from the Government Outcomes Lab's Impact Bond Dataset to explore how social outcomes contracts (SOCs) are being adopted and adapted across Europe to address a wide range of social problems. 


For the fourth session of our Engagement with Evidence series, we hosted an online session on the global landscape of outcomes funds. The session drew on recent research conducted by the Government Outcomes Lab and practitioners' insights into the design and implementation of outcomes funds. 

We brought together academic and practitioner perspectives to take stock of the global landscape of outcomes funds and explore the various approaches to these funds in different contexts and geographies. The discussion was anchored in recent empirical research conducted by the Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab) that investigates the rationales for developing outcomes funds in the UK and internationally, and offers an analytical framework for characterising outcomes funds. 

Speakers included senior researchers from the GO Lab at the University of Oxford, alongside experts from the UK Government, the Education Outcomes Fund, Social Finance and Instiglio.  


Session recording

For the third session of our Engagement with Evidence series, we hosted an online session on new evidence and insights from the world's first development impact bond for maternal health, the Utkrisht Impact Bond.

The session provided implementation insights from the main stakeholders involved in the Utkrisht development impact bond, the world's first maternal and newborn health impact bond. We drew on Mathematica's recent midline report which outlines findings and insights from this experiment in innovative finance for maternal health. 

We were joined by a leading panel of speakers from across the globe. They brought expertise on social innovation, global health, health financing and international development, as well as their own practical experience working on impact bonds. 


For the second session of our Engagement with Evidence series, we hosted an online session on new evidence and insights from four Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) across Africa and Asia.

We drew on a recent Ecorys report which captures lessons from the delivery phase of FCDO’s DIBs pilot programme. Through this, we explored key ingredients in DIBs to increase efficiency and effectiveness, the conditions for DIBs to be an appropriate commissioning tool, and the costs and benefits of using them. 

We were joined by a leading panel of speakers from across the globe. They brought expertise on impact investment, humanitarian aid and international development, as well as their own practical experience in impact bond management. 


To launch GO Lab’s Engaging with Evidence series, we hosted an online session on new evidence and insights from the implementation of social impact bonds (SIBs) in Latin America.

To launch GO Lab’s Engaging with Evidence series, we hosted an online session in partnership with Ecorys and the Innovation Lab of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB Lab), focussing on new evidence and insights from the process of developing social impact bonds (SIBs) in Latin America. The session drew on a recent Ecorys report which captures lessons from the experience of introducing SIBs in five Latin American countries: Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. We explored key factors for developing the SIB ecosystem, discussed how these can be applied elsewhere, and invited participants to share their experiences from different contexts.

We were joined by a leading panel of speakers from across the globe. They brought expertise on impact investment, social innovation and development finance as well as their own practical experience in launching and leading social impact bonds in the region.