I am reading the High-level expert review of the EU research programme in the field of ICT.
Very interesting. There are many comments to make.
1) it is an expert report (the IPSE DIXIT approach). So there is little need to present evidence, and little evidence is presented: indeed, there is a nice effort to precisely and punctually refer the conclusions presented to the evidence in the annex, but if you actually read the annex, the evidence is not very conclusive.
2) my impression is that there is better evidence for negative comments, than for positive ones. For example, the positive impact for SMEs is based on interviewees personal opinion, while there is plenty of objective evidence that the programme failed to involve the most innovative SMEs (only 22% received funding).
3) the main problem is the method. Surveying participants is not a good way, IMHO, to obtain solid evidence. Especially as the participants have an interest in this funding instruments being enhanced…
4) some worrying evidence is hidden in the annex. for example the patenting ratio of funded projects is lower than ICT industry in general.
5) the key recommendations are not particularly original: venture capital, public procurement, public private partnership, less red tape. I think if you look back ten years, the recommendations would have been the same. In particular, I’ve been working on venture capital policies 10 years ago, and the evidence pointed to a lack of good proposals to be financed in Europe rather than to a lack of VC supply. When Loic le Meur moved to Silicon Valley, the key reason was the quality of human resources there, not VC. However, it is interesting that yet another report points to the importance of framework conditions, rather than to specific policy measures.
6) some very interesting recommendations point to the need for enhanced flexibility in funding research. I totally agree on that, as recent web2-like developments show that innovation are developed through iterative efforts of trial and error, rather than through large-scale long-term projects. I have a suggestion: we have seen how PRIZES have become a popular way to finance innovation, both in the private (e.g. google android applications) and public sector (e.g. DARPA all-terrain robotic vehicle contest). See also this great article by Kelman . This is consistent with the report comments on “financing projects based on actual performance rather than promises and reputation”.