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Evaluation of Enterprise Fellowships: final report


Scottish Enterprise (SE) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE’s) Enterprise Fellowships programme aims to target researchers and innovators with entrepreneurial potential and a promising science and technology based business idea, by helping awardees grow their business via a year’s salary, business training, business development funding and access to mentors, business experts and professional advisers. This report evaluates the findings of Phase III of the programme (from 2008 to 2013) to understand the extent to which the programme: remains on track to deliver the intended outputs and outcomes; remains fit for purpose and continues to align with SE’s strategic objectives; continues to operate effectively; and has potential for improvement.


The methodology consisted of: a review of programme documentation (including approval papers, strategic documents, and SE customer relationship management system (CRM) data on Fellows’ businesses); interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders, including representatives from SE, RSE, Scottish Universities, participating Research Councils, ex-Fellows and the appointed training provider; and an e-survey of ex-Fellows.


The report finds that the programme is successful, still aligns with SE’s strategic goals, and Phase III has funded 41 Fellows, many of whom operate in SE’s priority sectors, notably digital and enabling technology. The programme works well, particularly in the quality of the new training provider, the flexibility of the programme to suit individual needs, and the number of new businesses and serial entrepreneurs it has helped to create in Scotland. Areas where the programme works less well include: trust issues around access to and ownership of intellectual property (IP); insufficient marketing and the limited involvement of ex-Fellows in selling the benefits of the programme to prospective applicants; and a lack of international focus. Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) are the gatekeepers to the programme in universities and identifying mentors remains a challenge. The report finds that the current two-call system to Enterprise Fellows is effective and having between six and ten Fellows in each cohort is beneficial, allowing Fellows the opportunity to learn from and challenge one another.


The report recommends that SE should improve the programme’s management information to show how the positive contribution of the programme also contributes to other targets. Marketing and promotion of the programme needs to improve, and RSE should broaden their marketing from TTOs to include Research Vice Principals and Heads of Departments in the programme. SE and the RSE should explore opportunities to engage new public and private sector funders, in order to support a higher number of participants. Mentors need to be assigned early in the process, and there may be a role for ex-Fellows to take a role in the programme. SE, RSE and the universities should work collectively towards the goal of increasing communication and trust on the issue of IP ownership. The report also recommends that SE should consider ways to encourage Enterprise Fellows to conduct more business development on an international scale, for example, by increasing the £10,000 business development allowance.

Author Frontline
Published Year 2013
Report Type Evaluation
  • Sectors
    Chemical sciences, Digital markets and enabling technologies, Life Sciences
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation
  • Innovation
    Commercialisation, Business innovation