The 'Policy Support Facility' (PSF) was set up by the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation (RTD) of the European Commission under the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 'Horizon 2020', in order to support Member States and associated countries in designing, implementing and evaluating reforms of the national science, technology and innovation systems.
One of the services offered by the PSF are Mutual Learning Exercises (MLE) which are a project-based learning processes whereby over a period of about six months participating countries jointly examine a challenge-driven policy question in detail. The MLEs involve information acquisition and information sharing activities.
The purpose of this particular MLE was to improve the exchange of information and identification of good practices between the participating countries (Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden) and in this way contribute to put in place better systems for the ex-post evaluations of business R&I grant schemes.
This MLE discussed various examples of what some regard as the “golden standard” in evaluation. The three key observations were: evaluations using econometric analyses are far from standardized and complex to perform; econometric analyses are very demanding in terms of data-availability and quality; the obstacles regarding access to data and data confidentiality are far from being removed in only but a few cases.
While the trend towards econometric analysis continues unabated, it was consensus within the group that it would need to be balanced with an understanding of behavioural effects, i.e. the “innovation journey of firms”, of the use of R&D and innovation grants. Thus, some of the main challenges and questions discussed by this MLE group included: the use of econometric analyses from other domains, as for example education and labour market studies; how to deal with the interaction of various schemes used in combination and how to measure and understand behavioural effects.