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Micro and opto electronics: 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 micro and opto electronics cluster, 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 20 interviews were held with contacts in industry, academic institutions, other public bodies and SE. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by SE stakeholders.


The original rationale for cluster intervention remains strong and combining microelectronics with optoelectronics into a single cluster strategy is sensible. The strategic goals for the strategy are appropriate. The staff are well regarded by the industry, but locating the team at Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian (SEEL) has caused some negative perceptions in industry about the balance of investment across SE regions. Large-scale initiatives supported by SE have raised the ‘image’ of Scotland as a world-class centre and transformed the attitudes of the academic community to engage more closely with industry. Horizontal support initiatives have benefited significant numbers of companies, but the visibility of the cluster to the industry is patchy. It is difficult to separate out performance achievements from the consequences of the changes in the global markets. The cluster action plans have been SE-led, with a varying degree of input from the industry.


The report suggests there is a need for better information management to justify the links between proposed activities and the achievement of realistic outputs, outcomes and GVA. Monitoring of activities must be able to quantify the long-term benefits of the sector. Opportunities for accessing wider sources of funds need to continue to be identified and maximised. The MOET cluster should generate closer links with other SE initiatives and examine ways to deliver its programme more cost-effectively. The report recommends a review of all high technology support programmes, both in Scotland, and nationally, to help identify areas of complementarity or duplication. SE should support Scottish micro electronics companies to increase their ‘embeddedness’ within the Scottish economy and provide assistance to improve the capability of companies to operate efficiently in global markets.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support