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Evaluation of Textiles Technology Facilitator Service: final report
The Textile Technology Facilitator Service (TTFS), a Scottish Enterprise (SE) funded programme launched in February 2009, provided innovation and research and development (R&D) support to the technical textiles sector. TTFS assisted textile companies, in particular 'lower technology' businesses, to collaborate outside their immediate supply chain. The programme had five strategic objectives: to work proactively with the textile industry to identify potential opportunities for higher value textile products and processes; to identify potential partners for collaboration; to act as a broker to secure commitment to joint project development; to co-ordinate and manage collaborative projects; and to lower technology and cultural barriers. The report aimed to review the performance and impact of the TTFS. The review also sought to provide SE with further evaluation evidence of the best ways to intervene in the innovation and R&D commercialisation arena.
The methodology consisted of: an online survey of twelve of the twenty-eight companies engaged with TTFS; an in-depth consultation with six of these companies; and interviews with the three independent consultants delivering the TTFS service, the SE project manager, the SE Enabling Technologies Team, six SE Account Managers, and the Scottish Textiles Industry Association.
The report finds that the TTFS has made significant progress in the last year. TTFS has largely achieved or exceeded its contractual targets. The project provided intense support to thirty-five companies and identified ninety-five opportunities for collaboration, resulting in new products or processes in approximately one in every six. The majority of these developments have occurred in the last nine to twelve months; this reflects the need for an initial building of trust. The report does not identify any direct commercial benefits, although approximately twenty per cent of supported businesses did suggest likely impacts on turnover in the future. The report estimates that these impacts may result in a total cumulative gross increase in turnover of £1,338,462 for the project. There are strong indications that projects with clear commercial potential are now coming to fruition. The relationship between the TTFS and SE Account Managers was not as effective as it could have been. However, the report finds that its innovative and flexible approach has allowed the TTFS to respond to business needs and customers’ satisfaction with the support provided has been high.
The report recommends that opportunities should continue to be sought for cross-sector working and collaborative innovation and R&D projects within the textile industry. Greater emphasis on communication between TTFS and Account Managers would allow for greater clarity between them, and for the businesses involved. In future projects, the report suggests that it may be best to separate the opportunity identification and project initiation from more intensive follow-on project development. Future projects of this nature must recognise that engaging with businesses and the development of links between former competitors and with the supply chain and the higher education sector takes time. The report recommends there is merit in continuing to support the textile sector through opportunities to network (once businesses have been engaged and when the benefits have been have been demonstrated to them). A flexible approach requires a proactive delivery partner and intensive contract management. It may be more appropriate to break down the delivery of the different elements of the project (events, one-to-one support, links with academics, etc) into sub-elements. The report recommends that support for innovation and R&D in the wider sector is continued, and that some of the approaches, such as flexible support and project development activities, are also continued.
Full report (2 MB, doc)