Innovation & Enterprise


Governance of your innovation network

Understand the importance of, and how to approach, governance of your innovation network.

Good governance brings resilience, confidence and improved effectiveness.

It’s critical to define your network stakeholders’ expectations, roles, and processes as soon as possible.

You'll need to set up an advisory board or steering committee who will be accountable for the delivery of the network's strategy.

A defined organisation structure, terms of reference and a method for board member selection are also important tools to underpin good governance.

Every innovation network is different, so you should tailor its structure to meet the needs of the network and its members.

When applying for funding

If you're applying for an innovation network scoping grant, defining the governance structures should form part of your planned activities.

If you're applying for a grant to set-up and run your innovation network, be sure to provide a description of your governance in the application.

Advisory board / steering committee

Your advisory board or steering committee is accountable for the delivery of the network as a whole and for monitoring progress against its strategy. Specific terms of reference for the board/committee should be developed and agreed by all members.

The role of an advisory board or steering committee includes:

  • establishing a vision for the network
  • setting strategy and structure
  • planning for the future, including how to achieve and fund long-term aims that extend beyond the funded period
  • delegating actions to the person or team responsible for day-to-day operation of the network
  • being responsible to, and communicating with, relevant stakeholders

Key responsibilities

Typically, your advisory board or steering committee is responsible for:

  • developing the vision and strategy for the network, in agreement with the Chair
  • working with and engaging key stakeholders to define scope and priorities
  • assessing and monitoring progress, outcomes and overall success of the network against its strategy
  • ensuring effective communication of successes and deliverables through appropriate routes
  • using influence and authority to assist the network in achieving its outcomes


Regular meetings are important to keep all board/committee members informed and enable productive discussions and relevant decision making.

Meetings are chaired by the Chair, with secretariat provided by the Network Coordinator/Operations Manager.

You should consider:

  • if setting a quorum for attendance is required 
  • how often you’ll hold these meetings (e.g. quarterly)

These meetings also provide an opportunity to:

  • monitor the performance and delivery of network activities, particularly with reference to its strategic objectives
  • provide a platform for discussion, escalation and/ or resolution of any collaboration-related issues as appropriate

Benefits of good governance

Good governance:

  • provides organisational resilience to external factors
  • injects energy when needed
  • prevents overheating when needed
  • provides protocol for when things go wrong
  • depersonalises difficult discussions
  • provides confidence to those engaged in the partnership (partners know what to expect)