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Evaluation of the IRC Network: final report


The Innovation Relay Centre Network Scotland (IRC) was part of the European IRC network of 72 Innovation Relay Centres, created to facilitate the transfer of innovative technologies to and from European companies, mainly SMEs, and research departments. The IRC principally covered promotion of Framework Programmes 6 and 7 (FP6 and FP7) and assisted firms to prepare FP6 submissions. The remainder of the IRC’s contract related to Transnational Technology Transfer (TTT, also known as ‘downstream activity’). The evaluation was undertaken during the summer of 2004 and aimed to: identify the actual and relative performance of the IRC; review the methods and targets set out in the Scottish Enterprise paper, SE PAG(02) 38; review the measures and targets set out in the EC Contract for the IRC 4.47; and make comparisons with IRCs and other initiatives in the EU which help firms commercialise technologies through collaboration agreements.


The methodology consisted of: a mix of consultations with IRC and its partners in delivery; a survey of users (telephone and face-to-face); and, following the draft report, a discussion considering future options between the Scottish Enterprise Growing Business Team and Scottish International Operations.


Presents a table detailing IRC’s progress in implementing the recommendations made in the previous evaluation and notes that virtually all the recommendations have been implemented, most fully. Sets out the options open to Scottish Enterprise when considering the future of the service. These include: do nothing; maintain the status quo; deliver service through Local Enterprise Companies (LECs); service delivery by consultancy; integrate IRC in SDI; or maintain status quo plus incremental improvement. NB the economic impact calculations in this report do not wholly adhere to the Scottish Enterprise Economic Impact Assessment Guidance launched in 2006, therefore please treat these figures with caution. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you need more information.


With respect to the FP6 service, recommends that: it is continued; that a user sample is surveyed by phone annually either by IRC or third party, with the emphasis being on how support could be improved; that IRC staff begin to acquire similar knowledge to Peter Walker’s experience; the IRC uses different media to explain to firms the benefit of its support; and consideration is given as to how an organisation about to make an application could be identified and offered support. With respect to the IRC’s ‘downstream activity’, recommends that the IRC continues to build on its links with Scottish Development International (SDI) and LECs, continues to build on its links with relevant trade bodies and that SE and IRC should be clear on their respective client targeting criteria. Suggests that when an IRC staff member decides to leave, an IRC manager allocates a new temporary internal contact and ensures that the departing employee informs all of their client firms of their new contact’s name. Recommends that IRC reviews the scope to improve the ‘dynamism’ of the submissions it posts on the IRC database, taking cognisance of the protocols that apply, and that IRC assess ways to ‘fast-track’ information-sharing and negotiations processes, to shorten the negotiations time-frame.

Author O’Herlihy and Co Ltd
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Innovation
    Commercialisation, Business innovation, Innovation system