Page Loading

Software: 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 software 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. Fifteen interviews were also held with industry representatives, academic and research establishments, intermediaries and Scottish Enterprise staff. The main findings and conclusions have been tested with independent sector experts and reviewed by SE stakeholders.


The absence of an approved strategy and associated funding, the team’s organisational structure and the positioning of software as an enabling technology has limited the scale of direct software industry intervention and damaged credibility with the industry. The software team’s skills set and industry knowledge are viewed favourably, but there is less confidence in the team’s abilities at implementation. Programme performance was relatively strong during the period up to around 2001 with subsequent performance affected by tougher external market conditions. Valuable work has been progressed in the areas of physical infrastructure, (the SoftNet network of managed software incubation centres), industry collaboration (the STAC initiative) and innovation (SE’s Proof of Concept fund). Impact to date in industry internationalisation and ‘productisation’ has been limited. Current monitoring systems are unsuitable.


The report recommends that future priority action will need to be directed at developing new mechanisms for unlocking latent intellectual property (IP) in the higher education sector, efficiently transferring academic technological expertise into profitable and sustainable businesses and further professionalising the business management of the software industry. There are opportunities for increased collaboration and better knowledge sharing with other clusters and industry groups. The report suggests there is a requirement for better information management systems, further evaluation and a dedicated modelling framework of the intervention programme.

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