Added values of participating in EU Framework Programmes

Date de publication : 27 janvier 2023 | langue de rapport : SV

The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) assigned Faugert & Co Utvärdering/Technopolis Sweden to analyse Swedish participation in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, including partnership programmes. The purpose of the assignment was to generate information for Vinnova’s annual reporting of Swedish participation to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, and partly to create information to support the work of Vinnova and other Swedish research and innovation (R&I) funders in strengthening Swedish participation in Horizon Europe and partnerships in line with the government’s national strategy.

Data collection consisted of document analyses, registry analyses, in-depth interviews, and a web survey, as well as six case studies of partnerships and four case studies of how other countries work to make the most of the framework programmes. The assignment was carried out in the period April–December 2022.

The study concludes that it is relatively easy to identify potential added values at an overarching societal level, but considerably more difficult to convince individual actors that there are attractive added values specifically for them. Whether an individual actor indeed does experience a specific added value to a large extent depends on the type of actor and in which subject area or sector it is active. Many added values are also strongly dependent on the type of project. Knowledge of partnership-specific added values is not well spread, but the actors who nevertheless have good insights see extensive added values. Added values consequently are not universal and how strong they are perceived to be varies.

In contrast to the four case study countries, Sweden has no tradition of national strategies for framework programme participation, so the one developed for Horizon Europe is welcome. However, it is less detailed and has fewer quantitative objectives than those of the other countries, and its objective for economic return is modest. Country case studies indicate that if a national strategy is to have substantial impact, R&I funders must clearly implement it in their operations so that the overall objectives remain on the agenda. An important tool in such implementation is to repeatedly evaluate participation to lay the foundation for learning and development of working practices and support systems.

How shall the national strategy lead to increased participation? The fact that the strategy is characterised by ambiguity and a moderate ambition level does not help, nor does the fact that the R&I funders expect Swedish programmes to assist without giving them sufficient resources to live up to expectations. Several interviewees express frustration at the lack of enthusiasm from Sweden to be active at EU level. There are lessons to be learned from other countries. Sweden could learn from the Norwegian can-do attitude to maximise benefits of the framework programmes and from the Finnish experience that parallel national programmes easily create negative incentives. Both Finnish and extensive Swedish experiences show that it is naive to expect that national funding will automatically lead to actors applying for European funding. The lessons learned would be that very clear incentives (i.e., money) are needed to persuade actors to try to harvest higher hanging fruit, or alternatively that national programmes receive a clear mission and substantial resources to allow them to meaningfully compensate for the strong negative incentives for participation in the framework programmes that they themselves create through their existence.

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