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Evaluation of the Saltire Foundation project: final report


The Saltire Foundation project aimed to grow the entrepreneurial capabilities of future Scottish business leaders and address weaknesses in sales and marketing capability of Scottish high growth small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enable them to compete effectively in the global marketplace. The Foundation managed two programmes: the Scholars Programme, which provided undergraduates with an opportunity for an international internship; and the Fellows Programme, which allowed mid-career executives opportunities to learn at Babson University, Boston, and undertake projects with a US-based company and a Scottish SME. The evaluation aimed to assess: the ‘return’ that Scottish Enterprise’s investment in the Saltire Foundation’s project generated or is likely to generate in the future; the overall achievement of the Saltire Foundation to date; and the future direction and delivery of the project.


The methodology consisted of: face-to-face interviews with 23 partners and consultees in Scotland; telephone interviews with 24 Scholars’ and Fellows’ host firms in the USA; a mix of face-to-face and telephone interviews with Fellows; telephone interviews with 10 Scotland-based SMEs; and an online questionnaire of Scholars(with a response rate of 66 per cent).


The Scholars Programme appears to be successful, in terms of benefiting the participating undergraduates and in enhancing Scotland’s image abroad. The Fellows Programme appears to be on track to generate future impacts, but application numbers have been lower than anticipated. The Fellows cite specific benefits associated with their experience on the programme, including: a comprehensive understanding of the factors needed to grow a global business, and how these could apply to Scotland; leadership skills and management confidence; sales and marketing skills; entrepreneurialism; and accessing and using networks. Key impacts of the Saltire project include an estimated future (from 2007-2016) net cumulative turnover of £13,465,092, cumulative Gross Value Added (GVA) of £6,885,121 and net cumulative employment of 35 . Overall, the report suggests that the initiative has performed well to date from an impacts perspective, although the full benefit from SE’s investment is likely to be derived when the Fellows either launch their own companies or gain senior posts in Scotland-based firms. The report finds that the Foundation has two capacity-related issued which need to be addressed: raising the funds necessary to build successful programmes; and having the team, resources and focus within the Foundation to deliver the programmes effectively.


The report suggests that there is potential for the Foundation to generate higher levels of social value in future and that social impact is an important feature for potential donors. The report outlines specific recommendations for the Foundation regarding the programmes’: financial sustainability; the continuance of the programmes; the Scholars’ and Fellows’ programme design; social capital; team and capacity issues; and market failure. The report recommends that the Scholars Programme should be continued and its volume expanded, providing funding is available and quality can be maintained. The Fellows Programme should continue to be delivered, providing the proposed design changes are adopted and it is recognised that future design changes may be necessary to maximise engagement. The report suggests that the overarching challenge for the Foundation will be to attract a sufficient level of funding. A future funding programme should be agreed with Foundation’s Trustees - Scholars’ and Fellows’ Programmes should only be launched when sufficient funds are in place to deliver them in full. The Foundation should consider the resources it requires to deliver a redesigned Fellows Programme and an expanded Scholars Programme (that engages more science and engineering graduates).

Author O’Herlihy and Co Ltd
Published Year 2011
Report Type Evaluation
  • Internationalisation
    Internationalisation of Scottish businesses