Evaluation Tender with Sunderland Software City

1.       Tender Overview

You are invited to submit a proposal to undertake an evaluation of Sunderland Software City (SSC). The successful organisation or consultant (the ‘evaluator’) will work with SSC to achieve the outcomes requested in this specification.

The overall aim of the evaluation is to assess the progress and impact of SSC and make recommendations for the development of existing initiatives, or new business opportunities, going forward.

The programme of evaluation will take place in two stages, a formative assessment and summative assessment. There are several key areas that must be considered throughout the evaluation process to continuously improve and enhance the service delivery to customers.

The timescale for this work is ongoing between November 2019 and January 2021.


2.       Background

Sunderland Software City (SSC) is a delivery partner in the Digital Innovation Partnership, which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (managed by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government).

SSC is tasked with supporting the technology industry in the North East of England – aiming to ensure that the regional tech sector has the business support, connections, skills and opportunities to thrive nationally and internationally.

SSC also works with non-digital enterprises who are interested in exploring digital innovation. Through these activities, SSC facilitates introductions and commercial opportunities for digital businesses in the region.

In addition to this business focus, SSC works with employers to identify skills gaps and learning opportunities for their workforces. SSC delivers training to help businesses in the region upskill their employees, to ensure a workforce that is prepared for a digital future.

SSC works across the NELEP area, including Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland. Through its work leading the Digital Catapult North East and Tees Valley (NETV) it also delivers an economic and regenerative impact across Teesside.

Currently the initiative is delivered by a team of people working in SSC, Gateshead and Sunderland Council with contracted delivery brought in when require, for example to deliver the SSC Intelligence Service.


3.       Evaluation Aims and Scope of Tender

The evaluator will develop a methodology for effective evaluation, in order to achieve the following:

  • Demonstrate the impact of SSC against its stated aims and objectives;
  • Understand and assess the potential long-term impact of the initiative (i.e. beyond March 2021);
  • Assess the economic impact of the initiative on the NELEP & Tees Valley area.
  • Assess the current perception of SSC amongst stakeholders and potential stakeholders; including awareness of services offered, positioning, brand, understanding of the relationship between SSC and its partners.
  • Assess the content of the service offerings to ensure they meet the demands of the marketplace; where necessary make suggestions for improvement or the development of new services
  • Assess the quality of delivery, with a focus on the customer journey; i.e. how does the referral/ signposting process work, does SSC successfully act as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for businesses’ needs.;
  • Assess the opportunities for generating income from service offerings, including an analysis of demand, competitors (regionally and nationally) and suggested pricing structures;
  • Highlight examples of best practice developed by SSC;
  • Draw out and articulate the Strategic Added Value generated by the initiative;
  • Support the development of 5 case studies of project impact;


4.       Indicative Timescales

Stage 1: Formative Report – November 2019 to February 2020

Stage 2: Summative Report –  August 2020 to January 2021


5.       Outputs and Deliverables

Stage 1 – Formative Report

The formative report to be carried out in this stage should provide a clear picture of:

  • The current performance of the project against milestones and targets set, and its contribution to the region’s economic development.
  • A forward projection of performance given current status and additional trend analysis where appropriate.
  • Regional awareness of Sunderland Software City amongst general public, business and academic communities and software sector.
  • Regional awareness of offer of Sunderland Software City amongst general public, business and academic communities and software sector.
  • Local/national/international perception of Sunderland Software City and its position in the wider market.
  • Highlight areas of good practice in the initiative using appropriate case studies, and any areas of concern in the initiative. Suggest associated remedial action recommendations if necessary.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of current SSC strategy, team structure, governance and systems.
  • Make suggestions as to how SSC can provide stakeholders and clients with a better service and widen its reach.

Methodology for obtaining the above requirements should be included in the tender response; however any methodologies will be subject to refinement through discussions with SSC.  Please note that we are looking for an evaluator with innovative ideas and mixed methodologies (i.e. not just online surveying of stakeholders).

The format for the interim report should be offered in the tender response.

The formative report will be used by SSC to form recommendations to the SSC steering group and relevant funders to monitor initiative progress.

Stage 2 – Summative Report

A final evaluation report must be delivered at the end of March 2021.  This report will be a summative report, assessing current and potential impact and commenting on the performance of the initiative against its milestones and the specifics within each partners funding contract. It should cover:

  • The overall performance of the project against milestones and targets set, and its contribution to the region’s economic development.
  • An assessment of the potential long-term impact of the initiative, based on outcomes not yet realised (e.g. predicted new jobs). This report must make statements on whether the initiative has the trajectory to achieve its long-term vision and make recommendations on how best the initiative should be progressed.
  • Understanding if the services offered still meet the needs of regional businesses, with suggestions for improvement if necessary.
  • Identify new markets, potential income streams and gaps in the existing provision of business support (regionally/ nationally).
  • Identify additional partners and/or sources of funding for the initiative.

It is vital at that this summative report is planned and delivered within the Project Summative Assessment Guidance provided by ERDF


6.       Delivery Period

Once the evaluator is appointed, it is anticipated that work will commence on the project in November 2019, and delivery will continue through to January 2021.


7.       Next Steps

We are now inviting organisations and consultants to submit a proposal for this work.

Your proposal should include in no more than 20 sides of A4 (+ CVs in appendix):

  • A brief description of your organisation/area of work.
  • A description of how you will approach the requirements for this work, specifically your proposed methodology for the requirements outlined in section 6.
  • A short description of the expertise that would be applied to this work (including CVs in appendix). Specifically, this should cover the software sector experience of the team (or sub-contractors).
  • Examples of any previous work which is relevant (maximum 2 examples).
  • A quote for this work including VAT and expenses.

Work carried out during tender response development is at the discretion of the individual organisation and no reimbursement is available for said work.

Quotations shall remain valid for a period of 90 days.

Sunderland Software City does not bind itself to accept the lowest or any quotation, and reserves the right to accept a portion of any quotation unless the supplier expressly stipulates otherwise in their quotation.


8.       Selection & Indicative Milestone Process


Deadline for Receipt of Proposals Tuesday 19th November 2019 (5pm)
Presentation by Shortlisted organisations (if necessary) Friday 22nd November 2019
Contract awarded Tuesday 26th November
Formative Assessment Period November 2019 – February 2020
Start of Summative Assessment Process August 2021
Indicative Date for Completion End of January 2021









The following scoring criteria will be used to evaluate bids:

Criteria Weighting %
Understanding of project requirements 25%
Proposed methodology and design of service, including innovative methods of beneficiaries engagement 40%
Relevant experience of staff to be involved in the project, including specific knowledge of the software sector 20%
Value for money 15%


The value of this contract will be in the region of £30,000 (excluding VAT but inclusive of expenses).

Please send an electronic version to Laura Kennedy (Laura.Kennedy@sunderlandsoftwarecity.com) no later than 12noon (BST) on Monday 19th November 2019

Any queries on the tender should be directed to Laura Kennedy at Laura.Kennedy@sunderlandsoftwarecity.com


Logic Model of Digital Innovation Project- Logic Model