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The Digital Champions Project: a review


The Digital Champions project was set up to tackle Scotland’s increasing digital divide (the social divide between those with access to computers and the Internet and those without), specifically targeting SIP (Social Inclusion Partnership) areas. The aim of the evaluation was to assess whether Scottish Enterprise’s Digital Champions project was a good ‘fit’ with the strategic aims of the Scottish Executive’s policy on digital inclusion, and to review the progress of the project in the third year of its three year pilot.


An overview of the project was given, and the Scottish Executive’s digital inclusion strategy was described for the purposes of assessing the project’s ‘strategic fit’. Scottish Enterprise internal papers were used to describe the project’s remit. The target markets and expenditure of the project were analysed. A limited evaluation of the project’s achievements was made, focusing on reporting requirements, inputs, activities, outputs, impacts, leverage and value for money. A mapping exercise was carried out to investigate the role of the Champion. Also analysed were: the project’s ownership; geographic coverage; the value to LECs; the value to partners; the partnerships engaged in by the Champions; and issues affecting the project’s future.


It was found that the project did indeed have a strong rationale from the Scottish Executive’s digital inclusion strategy. Engaging with the SIP population was seen as something needing review, as the SIP arrangement was due to come to an end in 2004. Public Internet access was found to be universally available within one mile in urban areas and five miles in rural areas; hardware provision was not a problem, but opening hours were still seen as problematic in some places. The impact of Internet access remained unclear, which cast doubt over the assumed benefits of universal digital access. The project’s work with partner organisations was found to offer a holistic approach to social inclusion. The main contribution of the project was deemed to be from the co-ordinating function of the Champion. The project was considered to provide good value for money and part of the necessary infrastructure for social inclusion.


Four options were considered for the future of the project. These options were: 1. do nothing; 2. continue the project under the leadership of Communities Scotland; 3. continue the project as it stands; 4. continue the project with a new operating framework. Option 4 was considered to be the best, and detailed recommendations given on how it should be implemented.

Author Policy Research Network
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Local/community regeneration
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies
  • Equity
    Equal opportunities