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The GO Lab collects and publishes data on impact bond projects in our Project Database. Here, we explain what data we are collecting, why, and how you can help.

What data are we collecting and sharing?

Our database collects basic data on impact bonds projects. You can see a list of each data item or 'field' that we collect in our data dictionary, which you can download below.

GO Lab Data Dictionary

What counts as a ‘project’?

We define an 'impact bond' as a set of contractual relationships which includes four factors:

  • Some degree of payment based on outcomes achieved;
  • Up-front repayable finance provided by a third party, the repayment of which is conditional on achieving the outcomes;
  • Social intent, or a focus on social impact, from the service provider;
  • Some degree of performance management.
These four factors are further explained in the figure below.

Each project that begins work with a new target cohort, in a distinct geography and/or with a later start date is counted separately. This is because these projects will all have different datasets associated with them.

Figure 6: GO Lab's Key SIB Dimensions - hat might drive collaboration, prevention, and innovation?
A SIB's 'active ingredients'

Why are we collecting and sharing this data?

There are several reasons why we feel it useful to share data:

To support equal access to information. The different stakeholders in impact bond projects - the contracting authority or outcome payer, the service provider, and the investor - each need information to help them make judgements about key metrics,  such as the price of outcomes and performance targets. The contracting authority wants to be confident they can achieve a fair price and value for money. The provider and investor need confidence that delivery is viable within the price range and outcomes targets that the commissioner expects. Information from other projects can help mitigate against the risk of 'information asymmetry', where some stakeholders are perceived to be in the better informed position than others and confidence may be undermined.

As an aid to those exploring similar approaches. Better access to information will help potential entrants decide whether and how to get involved. Those who decide to set up a new project will be able to learn about how particular features or challenges were handled elsewhere, so they don't have to 'reinvent the wheel'. However, it is not just that access to a 'knowledge bank' from previous projects can help speed up the process for getting a new project launched. Combined with technical insights, it can also help with the process of incremental improvement, ensuring each new project builds on the learnings from the last. 

Research and policy recommendations. The sharing of data enables academic institutions, think tanks and researchers employed by governments to perform their own analysis of projects, helping to inform debates about the future use of this approach (and those like it).

Why are there gaps in the data template for each project?

Not all the information we think is useful to publish about a project is currently available. When this information is released into the public domain, or submitted to us along with consent to publish it, we will enter it into the database.

I have some data I would like to share – can I send it to you?

Yes! We are particularly pleased to receive as-yet unpublished data - please get in contact and we will send you a template to complete. We also value being directed towards public sources of data we may not have uncovered ourselves. 

I have noticed a figure is wrong – what should I do?

We make our best effort to provide accurate data based on the process above. Sometimes, the data we have sourced or which has been submitted might contain inaccuracies, or is disputed. In general, we ask data users to contact the original source of the data, as referenced in the corresponding citation, to have this corrected prior to asking us to adjust the figure in our database. Alternatively, data users may direct us to other published sources of the same data for us to compare. 

What does the data say?

We publish the data on each project in 'raw' form, as well as providing a simple summary of all projects. We welcome conversations from anyone about any analysis they are planning to do with the dataset, or to discuss any analysis we might be planning to do. 

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Projects database

Find out more about the social impact bond projects launched in the UK to date in our projects database.

Projects database