Scotland at Expo 2020 Dubai: evaluation report

An evaluation report detailing the work undertaken in developing and delivering Scotland's programme of activity and engagement at the EXPO 2020 Dubai between October 2021 and March 2022, highlighting outcomes achieved and recommendations to support participation at future World Expo events.

Section 12: Recommendations

Future Participation

  • It is important that the country and sectoral focus of any future Expos host aligns with Scotland's priorities from a Trade and Investment, economic and cultural perspective as we are more likely to consider having a full Scottish presence to help build on those engagement priorities.
  • In the event of a successful independence vote for Scotland in the period leading up to or during any Expo participation engagement with the UKG for Osaka 2025, officials would need to engage with the BIE to understand if we can apply for membership in our own right outside of the UK and if we could still secure Expo participation in those circumstances.
  • In the event of a successful independence vote officials would work with constitution policy colleagues to fully understand the impacts on our relationship with UKG and whether we would want or be able to continue engagement or collaboration on Expo participation.
  • Assuming Scotland's position within the UK does not change by the time plans are underway for EXPO Osaka 2025 we would need to have a clear and early understanding of UKG plans and objectives to support any potential engagement discussions and our own participation considerations.
  • Any future Expo sponsorship agreement with UKG must have robust process for partnership working to ensure a better understanding and level of delivery that meets Scotland's expectations for our investment and allows for appropriate challenge if UKG are not delivering on that.
  • A clear understanding of the focus for any future Expo event will be needed and whether that event is primarily aimed at business or culture or a combination as this can help us to determine if or how Scotland / Scottish Government would participate and/or who would lead delivery from a policy and budget perspective from within the SG.
  • The importance of the cultural elements was key to EXPO 2020 Dubai but from a DITI perspective it should not be a driver of our decision to participate. Therefore, if future Expo's are more culture focused participation should be encouraged only where there are obvious trade and investment benefits and we can use the cultural elements as a hook to engage with a business audience.
  • To take advantage of potential pre event commercial and procurement opportunities for any future Expo, we should ensure early resource can be committed to investigate and support Scottish companies to secure available contracts and that this would likely need to happen at least one to two years before the Expo start date.

Logistical Delivery

  • Work with an agency to undertake the consultation and research process in order to decide what the focus should be and to develop an overarching key theme or themes / priority areas to support focused next stage stakeholder engagement.
  • A professional and well organised Event management company who are clear on Scottish programme needs is key to assist in event planning and programming and "event day" delivery for any future major projects like an Expo.
  • Procurement of a suitable virtual platform that can accommodate audience participation on a large scale and ensure that any virtual event elements are managed and delivered by a strong production team with adequate tech support, a professional looking platform and overall seamless delivery.
  • Ensure any Scotland core delivery team is supported by a focused and properly balanced Steering Group in terms of senior representation and geographical representation from partners as this is a valuable mechanism for providing oversight and support.
  • Use a fit for purpose event management and ticketing platform which is accessible to all partners. So that processes such as registrations and ticket disbursal are automated where possible and less time consuming.
  • Ensure that the project team has a dedicated Comms specialist working on the project, delivering strategic communications advice and plans throughout including social media.
  • Contract a dedicated communications agency to support with the delivery of marketing material, event promotion, collateral development, copywriting and website and platform updates to avoid any burden on in-house teams.
  • Contract a dedicated in country PR agency to deliver in country PR opportunities.
  • Consider targeted paid media advertising to ensure that programmes were reaching the right audience.
  • On budgeting – create a budget pot for cultural showcasing to ensure buy in of culture colleagues and also to use as a hook for business events.
  • On budgeting – create a pot for stakeholders and partners to bid into – to ensure they can attend and engage, in order to widen the scope of the activity.
  • If possible, negotiate the use of private sponsors to help cover costs.
  • Project team should have relevant IT capabilities that support more collaborative working with all partners in sharing and working collectively on documents via a shared drive programme or similar.



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