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Chemicals: Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries


The Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries in Scotland aims to be a learning evaluation for Scottish Enterprise (SE) on the policy interventions pursued to date. The research objectives for this study focus on five principal learning areas: the appropriateness of cluster and industry policies and strategies; the rationale of programme selection and design in the light of strategic intent; the efficacy of cluster and industry interventions seeking to improve critical factor inputs; learning lessons and the adaptation and evolution of the approach; and broader SE support and resourcing. This report is one of the fifteen cluster- and industry-specific reports that have been prepared as background to the main report. In relation to the Chemicals industry, the report focuses on: the rationale behind SE involvement in the cluster and the appropriateness of the strategy; how the cluster work has rolled out in practice and in light of expectations; and the lessons learnt and how SE should go forward.


The report has been primarily based on a desk review of the individual clusters and industries - collected and collated by SE and ECOTEC jointly. 16 interviews were held with industry representatives, knowledge centres and SE staff. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by relevant SE stakeholders.


There has been very little intervention to date and translating strategic intent into delivery has proved challenging. It has not been feasible to assess the efficacy and impact of interventions. The report highlights the call for support from the industry and the strong belief that SE is the natural facilitator to present a single industry voice. The current rationale for intervention is appropriate, although the synergies across the three sub-sectors of the industry are not apparent. The sub-sectors have distinct challenges to face. Activities that have taken place have generally resulted from LEC or generic national programmes. The process to develop the action plan has generated feedback from senior industry figures. The account manager activities appear to have facilitated some successful interventions and the leveraging of private and public sector resources, with consultations suggesting that these interventions may be have additional.


The recommend recommends that the success of SE in engaging and sustaining chemical firms may be aided by securing ministerial support. Effective leadership and ensuring participants have appropriate authority will be necessary for industry led development. The involvement of a dominant player needs to be effectively managed to ensure an inclusive process for all industry interests. Securing relevant industry secondment is productive and interventions for the chemical industry should not be considered in isolation to other national and regionally based initiatives. Future strategy needs to be aware of the availability of support through a Manufacturing Advisory Service in Scotland. Best practice from elsewhere should be considered as part of systematic benchmarking and knowledge acquisition. To make an independent assessment of SE interventions the right balance of measures should be identified, appropriate systems set up for the collection of data and the base line established. The report suggests that there should be an evaluation and impact assessment of the chemicals action plan and business development support and a search for synergies with other industries.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Sectors
    Chemical sciences
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support