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Research and Innovation Strategies and Investments in Grand Challenges

Start Date: 
July, 2011
End Date: 
December, 2011
Service contract for the European Commission – DG RTD, Study to assist the ERA Board

Following the very positive feedback received on the final report of its previous study for the ERA Board (see below), JIIP has been asked to carry out another study for this high-level advisory committee. The aim of this new research project is to analyse and recommend on Ramp;I funding mechanisms that specifically address the so-called Grand Challenges, with a specific focus on “energy/ climate change” and “healthy ageing”. In includes an in-depth analysis of funding programmes in 13 countries in Europe and beyond as well as of some non-governmental foundations. One of the key findings is that even though there seems to be a broad political consensus on the conceptualisation of the grand challenges and a clear recognition of the importance of the issue, this has so far only had little effect on the design of R&D policies in Europe. A particular problem of Europe is also the neglect of the innovation and diffusion dimension and the missing link between the research and the innovation dimensions.  The development of an integrated systemic approach, which is essential in this context, is much more advanced in Asian countries, who have a tradition of national priority setting.

Based on these findings, the study comes up with the following five recommendations:

  1. The EU should see its role and its added value in coordinating and “topping up” the very scattered and relatively small-scale initiatives that exist at national and in particular at regional level.  Specifically in the current situation that is characterised by budgetary constraints, member states seem more and more willing to accept such a coordination role of the EU.
  2. The innovation and diffusion dimension should be much more emphasised in the debate and in joint actions.
  3. The different roles and coordination needs for S&T and innovation/diffusion should be recognised.
  4. Relatively independent (“arm’s length”) agencies should act as (temporary) change agents.
  5. Stakeholders should be encouraged to organise themselves better at EU level and to engage in a constructive way.

The results of the study will now be used by the ERA Board to formulate their advice regarding the future of Ramp;I funding in Europe. To download the full report, please click here.