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Food and Drink: 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 food and drink 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. A total of approximately 15 interviews were also held with appropriate SE staff, industry representatives, knowledge centres, and intermediate institutes. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by relevant SE stakeholders.


The original reasons for getting involved in supporting food and drink are sound and remain so. The food and drink cluster strategy has moved beyond the work directly funded by SE, and the policy alignment and partner delivery continues to improve. At individual project and intervention level there is clear evidence of evolution. There are a number of very well regarded projects and programmes, including: networking events; work on taking new market opportunities; and the work on skills. The restricted size of the central cluster team has limited the scope of activities they can undertake and has required them to outsource projects and programmes to other staff within partners and external consultants, resulting in resource implications - managing the consultants and trying to ensure consistent delivery. The lack of resources made it to difficult to meet the industry expectations of rapid and major action created by the consultation and policy development process.


Industry awareness of the strategy as a whole could be higher, although this is not necessarily a problem. There is a need for strategic overlap with other clusters/industries where there are common opportunities, such as tourism. More could be done to quantify the impacts of individual projects. Additional resources, especially staff, would allow more of the activities identified in the original research and strategy to be pursued. There is a need for a long term resource commitment by SE in order to allow the impacts of cluster work to develop.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors
    Food and drink