Strategic Evaluation of SDI International Activities


The Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise deliver international trade and investment support principally through Scottish Development International (SDI). SQW was commissioned to carry out an evaluation of the support provided for international trade between 2012/13 and 2015/16 and for inward investment from 2011/12 to 2015/16.

This major study assessed the rationale for support, the performance against targets, the effectiveness of the support and the impact of the support for the Scottish economy. The evaluation involved desk-based research, consultations with stakeholder and partner organisations, telephone and face-to-face interviews with over 400 businesses receiving export support and interviews with 60 inward investors.

The evaluation found SDI support to have been very effective in assisting international trade and inward investment, particularly among existing exporters and investors. This was despite a downturn in the oil and gas sector, the long-term impacts of the global recession, and the more recent political and economic uncertainty associated with Brexit.

Key research findings included:

  • Trade support generated £630m to £985m of new international sales and between £465m and £730m of additional GVA
  • Inward investment support generated around £1,600m in GVA increasing to £2,700m if attributable jobs were assumed to last for a further two years
  • Overall satisfaction levels were high, especially among inward investors and companies receiving intensive trade support
  • Businesses and stakeholders indicated that there is a good understanding of the key areas of market failure and SDI are providing a range of support that addresses the differing needs of business along the internationalisation spectrum.
For more information regarding the evaluation, please contact SQW's Project Director, Bruce Macdonald.

Download the full evaluation report and Executive Summary here