Technopolis Group recently completed the Evaluation of investments in Research and Technological Development (RTD) infrastructures and activities supported by the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) in the period 2007- 2013 on behalf of the European Commission’s DGT RTD. It investigates different levels of analysis (at country, Operational Programme, instrument and project level) inspired by theory-based impact evaluation, combining qualitative and quantitative methods.
Findings show that activities originally foreseen in Operational Programmes were successfully executed, with a high level of funds disbursements. The support focused more on strengthening the existing RTD capacities than on transforming regional RTD systems. A positive contribution to R&D capacities was reported especially by infrastructure investments targeting universities, particularly in EU13 regions. The contribution materialised in a higher number of students and tertiary attainments, increase in R&D personnel and researchers and more scientific output.
The main drawback was the lack of observable long-term impacts: improved scientific knowledge did not translate into technological development and innovation. The economic crisis certainly played a role in reducing the capacities, especially of the private sector, to exploit research results. However, synergies and complementarities with existing funding sources were also not always well exploited. Moreover, administrative failures and legal constraints exposed implementations to delays, uncertainties and, for some beneficiaries, financial stress.
The full report can be found here.