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Final project report: evaluation of New Product Development / Expert Help Programme


Scottish Enterprise (SE) Ayrshire’s New Product Development (NPD) / Expert Help Programme aimed to deal with shortfalls in knowledge and skills and encourage innovation by tackling the barrier of financial risk associated with investment in Research and Development (R & D). The evaluation aimed to: determine the true additionality of the 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 Programmes; identify what benefits the participating companies had gained as a result of their involvement; provide recommendations on the criteria for, and key features of, future assistance through this programme, taking into account Smart Successful Scotland and SE’s Network Targets; and comment on the optimal degree of focus for future assistance.


The methodology consisted of: Project Scoping (to finalise project plan, and agree targeting and information requirements for interviews); Evaluation Interview Programme (to obtain direct feedback from participants); and Project Review and Reporting (to achieve overall project objectives, to report back to SE Ayrshire, and to review the programme as a whole). It included seven telephone and four fact-to-face interviews with organisations and individuals who participated in the programme, plus discussions with SE Ayrshire’s former Innovation and Technology Counsellor, and technology related service providers.


Notes that participating companies were happy to choose their own service providers. Suggests that the programmes did not always provide funding simply for product development, but also for IT projects or internal procedures. Concludes that the majority of participants had seen significant advances in product development and that NPD / Expert Help had made a difference, although, so far, no significant changes had taken place in the businesses overall. Finds that the programmes have not been proactively promoted and therefore participation has been limited to a relative minority of local businesses. The effectiveness and quality of service of the programmes were highly rated, and addressed genuine market failure relevantly and effectively.


Recommends that the NPD / Expert Help Programme could make a difference to the Ayrshire economy if it reached a wider cross-section of companies. Suggests that there is a need for a New Product Development Initiative, designed to lead businesses through process from start to finish, and a flexible consultancy scheme. Notes that a technical capability is required by a project manager, experienced in engineering and product development. Considers that the Expert Help assistance has been suitably focussed, but notes that the NPD has helped too few companies. Recommends a wider objective review to enable decisions regarding future funding and resourcing of NPD assistance. Suggests an assessment of new product development potential of Ayrshire’s businesses will improve the focus and uptake of the relevant programmes.

Author Systems Insight Ltd
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Investment
    Equity investment
  • Innovation
    Business innovation