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Evaluation of the ‘Event Ready Producers - Road to 2014 and beyond’ project
The Event Ready Producers (ERP) project was launched to “provide practical guidance to support food and drink companies to successfully enter and benefit from the events market”. For the scope of this study, the project ran from March 2012 to February 2016. The objectives set by Scottish Enterprise (SE) for the study included assessments of: achievements against project objectives and targets; the extent to which the original market failure rationale for the project has been justified and addressed; the actual (to date) and anticipated economic impact arising from the project; any other benefits, tangible or intangible, that participants have gained; the value for money achieved by SE’s investment in the project; the efficacy of what has been delivered through the project; what more, if anything, could have been done to help participating companies realise benefits; and any learning that should influence similar activities in future.
The study involved four main research methods: desk-based review and analysis of background documents and monitoring records; online survey of project beneficiaries; telephone interviews with three beneficiaries; and face-to-face or telephone consultations with stakeholders and SE’s delivery contractors.
The study found that the ERP project has delivered many of the outputs identified in the original Approval Paper – a market segmentation, business referrals to third party sources of information and support, a business database, a website and e-zine (jointly with the Experiencing Scotland project), as well as producing a set of company case studies. Following a 12 month extension to the delivery of the project, ERP has achieved 86% of its target (of 26) for provision of 1-2-1 support to companies. In terms of market failure rationale, the study found the original information failure rationale for the intervention to be justified and having been addressed by the project. Stakeholders have highlighted the project as a good example of partnership working, and businesses were broadly satisfied with the support received: 85% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the review of their company’s readiness to supply events in Scotland; 100% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the advice they received on sales and supply strategies; and 71% were satisfied or very satisfied with the advice given on product and price propositions. In terms of economic impact, the net additional GVA lies in the range of £104k to £160k, aggregated over a seven-year period. The Net Present Value for the ERP project, according to the study, lies in the range of minus £51k to plus £5k. However, a low number of survey responses and a lack of data sharing from some companies suggests that these findings may under-estimate the eventual overall impact of support. Feedback confirms the appropriateness of the intervention in the context of the international events and related business opportunities in Scotland, notably in 2014-15 when Scotland played host to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and Year of Homecoming.
Both strategic and operational recommendations were made. Strategic recommendations included: to discontinue the ERP project, unless strong evidence of continuing need and demand can be obtained, and that any proposals for further themed years or events that are likely to generate substantial demand be taken into account when considering the case for a similar, successor project; to consider the merits of a more integrated supply chain intervention linking tourism/event businesses on the demand-side with the producers/providers of Scottish food and drink; and to consider the merits of establishing an ‘intervention framework’ as distinct from relatively small, stand-alone projects. Operationally, it was recommended that future interventions comparable to the ERP project should: examine innovative ways to exploit a project’s online presence and generally consider afresh how to exploit digital technology in line with SE’s own developing digital presence; and re-examine the benefits of exploiting an already well-established brand in the sector/s rather than promote a single, project-branded website.