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Commercialisation programme review: synthesis of findings - final report

Summary

Aims

Scottish Enterprise’s (SE) Commercialisation programme, which included 18 projects that engaged with 1,306 companies, aimed to deliver support to technology based businesses, ranging from investment to intensive support around the development of potential high growth businesses. The evaluation looked at how these assisted companies took ideas with commercial potential to the market and evidenced key objectives, supports, finance and its use and barriers to ongoing development. The evaluation provided an economic impact assessment of selected companies in order to highlight both impacts to date (2004-2007) and potential future impacts.

Methods

The methodology consisted of: a mapping exercise of companies accessing the Commercialisation programme; a survey of 100 companies; eight interviews with companies purchasing a licence from Intermediate Technology Institutes (ITIs); and an analysis of secondary data. The Branscomb model was used to provide a consistent assessment of companies.

Findings

Satisfaction with the programme was high and it generated a positive return, with the potential for a more substantial return over time. The grossed net additional benefits amounted to a net GVA impact of £115 million and a peak of 1,769 jobs in 2007. Future impact is likely to be driven by a small number of particularly high growth companies. Companies which demonstrated the most impact: were within the enabling technologies sector; had been trading for over 3 years; were in the ‘growing business’ stage of the Branscomb model; had 10-49 employees; did not access a university-based project; were classed as non spin-outs; and received 3-5 interventions. The majority of companies only accessed one intervention and a high proportion of the companies did not fit well with SE priority sectors. Although there were sectoral differences, the average company journey from product development to market lasted for around 5 years, with a cost of £1.6 million plus. Finance and lack of skills were the main barriers to getting a product to market.

Recommendations

The report suggests there is a need for a more coordinated approach between projects, which would deliver a greater level of support and ‘the right money at the right time’. The programme should include more support for marketing, sales and wider business improvement. The report recommends a more appropriate targeting of SE priority sectors and a shift in its scale of challenge to meet companies' ambitious growth projections. An evaluation of future programme success should include indicators such as investment raised, research and development (R&D) spend, intellectual property generated and innovations produced at the value of employment. Good practice should be used to maintain the high levels of satisfaction with the programme. In order to clarify the extent of the intervention and target future support, the report recommends that SE should improve its company data and make better use of systems in place to track and monitor companies.