Report on commissioning research – Social Economy Research Steering Group Meeting, April 2007

The Social Economy Unit in Communities Scotland has commissioned three pieces of research. EKOS Ltd will map existing provision to promote start up social enterprises. Rocket Science will report on two areas: present social enterprise activity in key market areas, and the business development support available to SEs in Lowland Scotland. Check out their briefs here.


Report on commissioning research – Social Economy Research Steering Group Meeting 25 April 2007



Project 1 – Research into the initiatives which work to promote start up Social Enterprises in Scotland
 
EKOS Ltd  appointed.


Purpose of research
main aims of the study are to:
     review existing initiatives that are providing effective support to start up social enterprises in the United Kingdom, western Europe and the United States of America, or elsewhere that might be identified as providing good practice examples;
     identify the strengths and weaknesses of these initiatives, in particular looking at both the cost and long term sustainability of start-up social enterprises supported through these initiatives; and
     provide recommendations on how to promote, develop and support start-up social enterprises.
In effect, the study is to map existing provision in Scotland, identify the key gaps, suggest alternative approaches from elsewhere to enhance provision, and make recommendations on future activity.
Methodology
 analytical framework of support types; matrix looking at Routes into social enterprise against phases of development at pre start up, start up and post start up.
 defining best practice; through desk based research against an agreed criteria
 identifying best practice and other service through initial e-mail survey of service providers followed by telephone interview
 



Project 2 – Research into Social Enterprise Activity In Key Market Areas in Scotland
 
Rocket Science appointed.


     Purpose of research
 
This aim of this research will be to examine current social enterprise business activity in Scotland and provide a baseline of information on this activity.  It will also identify the gaps in these markets where potential social enterprise activity may be developed.
 
The specific objectives are to:
• identify the key markets where social enterprise organisations currently operate (contracting with public, private and social sectors), and to provide a breakdown of activity within these areas by assessing market share. This should include but should not be limited to the following market, recycling, childcare, social care, employability, health.
• identify potential future markets for social enterprise over the next five years and to provide projection for potential market share for social enterprises;
• investigate public and private sector attitudes to social enterprise organisations in the potential future market areas identified above;
• identify current barriers to the development and growth of social enterprises within these areas;
• provide evidence of strengths and weaknesses of social enterprises within the specified key market areas; and
• identify work in England which is being done in relation to the key markets of social enterprises and identifying further markets i.e. Health.
 
Methodology
Desk research and information review
The desk research would look at the following main pieces of work:


• Developing the social economy: a critical review of the literature by Communities Scotland;
• The review of support mechanisms for social enterprise in the English RDAs carried out by Rocket Science in 2006;
• The review of SEN services for social enterprise by TERU and Simon Clark Associates;
• The work on social enterprise for the DTI carried out by Middlesex University and subsequent work by DTI;
• The SCVO database to assess its interpretation of social enterprise and levels of activity;
• Re-valuing the social economy by CEiS (2003);
• Work by the Social Enterprise Institute at Heriot-Watt University
• The review of Futurebuilders Scotland carried out by EKOS in 2006;
• Data on market size in the key market areas.
Interviews and focus groups with customers and stakeholders
Will interview a selected number of individuals from public sector purchasers (local authorities, health boards, the Scottish Executive, DWP/Jobcentre Plus), private sector investors and social enterprises in both Scotland and England to assess their understanding of:


• The current role of social enterprise in key market areas;
• The opportunities and threats to social enterprise;
• The incentives and obstacles to further growth by social enterprise.


Will hold five focus groups for social enterprises on a regional basis – Glasgow, west of Scotland, Edinburgh/Lothians/Borders, Tayside/Fife/Forth Valley and Aberdeen to assess their perceptions of markets, obstacles and opportunities.


Also interview by telephone the Social Enterprise Coalition in England to assess their intelligence on wider market issues.


Workshop with steering group


Present the results of the work at a half-day workshop with the steering group. The purpose of the workshop would be to discuss our findings and initial recommendations for their robustness, practicality and consistency. 


The outcome from this workshop would be a note of the key points made which would inform the reporting step.


Reporting


• an interim draft report which would draw fully on findings and draw them into a coherent whole. 
• draw on the workshop with the steering group to refine our recommendations.
• followed by a final report to reflect comments and feedback from the steering group, stakeholders and social enterprises consulted


 


Project 3 – Research into Business Development Support For Social Enterprises in Lowland Scotland
 
Rocket Science appointed.


Purpose of research


The purpose of this research will be to assess the level of support available to social enterprises which encourages further development.  This research would take into account:
 
•      the analysis of Local Social Economy Partners (LSEPs)
•      the internal Social Economy Unit report on LSEPs
•      all mapping carried out by LSEPs of social enterprises to date
•      the Scottish Enterprise report, Evaluation of network activity with social enterprises
•      the Scottish Executive review of support services
•      business advice services provided by Business Gateway to social enterprises.
 
The specific objectives are to:
 
• examine current activity in business development support for social enterprises and highlight geographic and thematic areas where there is a lack of support across lowland Scotland


• investigate social enterprise experiences of business development support in their area and identify the strengths and weaknesses of current provisions available;


• identify gaps in the provision of business development support and how these could be filled to enable social enterprises to achieve sufficient trading maturity in order to qualify for one-to-one support from the local enterprise company;


• identify the business support needs of social enterprises that will enable them to develop and grow.  Illustrate how these differ in geographical areas and market types; and


• provide recommendations for business development support requirements in each Community Scotland area network.  This should be based on providing support to those social enterprises with the potential to receive one-to-one support from their local enterprise company.  And should include recommendations for engaging and encouraging social enterprises to access support and reach trading maturity.
 
Methodology


Desk research and information review
The desk research would look at the following main pieces of work:


• The review of SEN activity for social enterprises carried out by TERU and Simon Clark Associates in 2006;
• The review of support mechanisms for the voluntary sector carried out by Rocket Science in 2006;


• The review of support mechanisms for social enterprise in the English RDAs carried out by Rocket Science in 2006;
• The review of Futurebuilders Scotland carried out by EKOS in 2006;
• The survey carried out by Cardiff University on behalf of Triodos Bank, ‘Turning big ideas into viable social enterprises’
• Business support needs of social economy enterprises carried out on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government;
• The review of LSEPs carried out by EKOS.


Also use a combination of interviews and questionnaires to collect information on:


• What mapping of support has been carried out by each lowland LSEP;
• A survey of types of support and volumes of activity from each Business Gateway contractor;
• A survey of business support provided to social enterprises by local intermediaries such as:


Interviews and focus groups with customers and stakeholders


• interview the 11 key stakeholders identified in the brief, using a tailored scorecard to assess their perception of the scope and effectiveness of business support in this area. 
• interview and hold five focus groups for social enterprises
• also use the information collected from the English RDAs and interview the Social Enterprise Coalition in England to test out some of the emerging themes.


Reporting


• present the results of the work at a half-day workshop with the steering group. The purpose of the workshop would be to discuss our findings and initial recommendations for their robustness, practicality and consistency
• an interim draft report which would draw fully on findings call on workshop and steering group to refine recommendations.
• followed by a final report to reflect comments and feedback from the steering group, stakeholders and social enterprises consulted.