Effektivisering av offentlig støtte til innovasjon: resultater fra en åpen høringsrunde

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Kommisjonens arbeidsdokument. Hvordan gjøre offentlig innovasjonsstøtte i EU mer effektiv: Lærdommer from en åpen konsultasjon om tiltak på fellesskapsnivå

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Arbeidsdokument lagt fram av Kommisjonen 9.9.2009

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BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsdokumentet, engelsk utgave)

This Staff Working Document aims to support an open and informed discussion on how to best improve the effectiveness of public innovation support mechanisms in the EU. ”Innovation support to businesses” can be distinguished from “support for innovation” in general in the sense that it is supporting the growth and competiveness of individual companies through a range of specific measures such as business incubation, growth financing, technology transfer between companies and others. Unlike support to research and development such forms of direct innovation support do not focus per-se on increased technical performance or at solving problems through advancement of technologies. This Staff Working Document only addresses the question of the effectiveness of direct innovation support to SMEs, as supported at European level notably by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

Innovation is considered as the key to fight the current economic downturn by helping businesses to grow and create jobs to counterbalance layoffs elsewhere. In order to promote innovation in the EU as effectively as possible, innovation support needs to be based on a clear policy rationale and to demonstrate the capability to make a real difference. This document is not about whether innovation support efforts in the EU are too big or too small, but about whether they are effective and how their effectiveness could be further improved.

As part of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, most Member States have undertaken great efforts in recent years to further improve their innovation support mechanisms, by investing in research and implementing new or better instruments in support of innovative SMEs. The INNO-Policy TrendChart currently identifies more than 1000 horizontal and specific innovation support measures across Europe, supporting technology transfer, incubation, access to finance, etc. Further major improvements are expected in the coming years, including through increased focus of the Cohesion Policy Funds on innovation. However, there are first signs that, notably due to the economic crisis, the commitment to further support innovation may become weaker in some Member States. This entails the risk that the catching-up process in innovation performance, which could be observed in recent years, may come to a halt.

The current global economic crisis puts increased pressure on public budgets. According to the 2009 Innobarometer on “Strategic trends in innovation”, the impact of the crisis on innovation expenditures seems greatest in medium-low tech manufacturing sectors and in countries classified as "catching up" by the 2008 European Innovation Scoreboard. As a direct impact of the economic crisis, the innovation gap in the EU risks to be widened again. This is an additional reason why governments need to verify which innovation support policies work best and could be made more effective to avoid falling behind in global competition. However, due to future budgetary restrictions policy priorities may be shifted away from activities like innovation support, that are likely to create impact in the long term, towards activities that mainly aim at addressing urgent short-term challenges.

Innovation support must demonstrate its economic impact in order to justify further funding. This Staff Working Document sheds some more light on the kind of innovation support stakeholders expect and what could be the role of the Commission in supporting Member States’ efforts in this respect in the most effective manner. The document provides further arguments for a better understanding of the optimal "division of labour" between the EU and the national or regional levels when it comes to innovation support. Since innovation support is typically provided at different levels, there is without doubt a risk of overlap between the support mechanisms provided at regional, national and EU level. However, potential synergy effects may also exist that need to be fully exploited.

This document builds on the results from the public consultation on the effectiveness of innovation support in Europe that was conducted between March and May 2009, which add to the ongoing and planned evaluations of Community programmes and initiatives in support of innovation. These results are complemented by feedback from other sources, such as the 2009 Innobarometer, the INNO-Learning Platform activities and discussions with stakeholders on how to better streamline and exploit synergies between EU instruments supporting innovation. Based on this, the main challenges for better innovation support to be provided in the future at Community level will be further elaborated in this document.

Following the shift of innovation support to businesses from the Framework Programme on Research and Development (FP) to the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) more emphasis is now placed on helping innovative SMEs, by complementing and further improving regional and national measures. However, in this respect there is still scope for further improvements, taking into account the policy objectives of the Small Business Act. The new Community innovation support measures funded under the CIP are intended to be more result-oriented and focused on SME needs.

Part 1 of this document provides a definition and typology of innovation support measures and discusses how the concept of market and systemic failures can be applied to innovation support. Furthermore, the implications of the subsidiarity principle are analysed.

Part 2 presents the main findings of the public consultation on the needs for better innovation support in Europe, reflecting the views of more than 1.000 enterprises and 430 innovation intermediaries. The results confirm that there is wide scope for improvements in support for innovation and a need to better prioritise actions towards the real needs of innovative SMEs.

Part 3 identifies a number of challenges to be addressed at Community level to further improve the effectiveness of innovation support in the EU. These challenges range from seeking better complementarities between regional, national and Community support actions to a more effective use of Community instruments in support of innovation.

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Dato
09.09.2009