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Forest industries: 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 forest 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. Around 14 interviews were conducted with SE staff, industry representatives and intermediate institutes. The main findings and conclusions have been reviewed by SE stakeholders.


The long-term involvement of SE and its financial backing were important elements in the establishment of the cluster. The cluster’s leadership group helped the cluster prioritise actions, encouraged buy-in from industry and gave the cluster credibility. The cluster team’s skills and experience were also central to the cluster’s success. Engagement provided the industry with ownership of the initiatives and the establishment of regional cluster groups has broadened the industry’s engagement. The rationale for SE’s support of the cluster remains because the industry is not sufficiently developed to drive the cluster forward without assistance. The cluster has benefited the industry by offering: renewed confidence in an unfavourable set of economic circumstances; higher inward investment; more innovative practices from other industries and countries; and the e-business and the timber transport forum. SE has made the cluster aware of its intention to disengage and is actively trying to develop the capacity within the industry to do so.


The report recommends a fuller evaluation of the cluster which should include: a detailed assessment of expenditure and output by theme area; a review of unit cost to establish efficiency; and an assessment of the impact of cluster activity on industry GVA and sales. The report suggests that if SE is to disengage from its current role it needs to ensure that a suitable organisation is in place to take over, because at present the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) is not developed enough to occupy that role. Finding a new organisation to lead the cluster should remain a key priority for the future.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors
    Forest industries