Quick scan valorization research

The Advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy (further AWT) is currently preparing an advice on the use of public private partnerships (PPPs) in relation to focus and mass in the Dutch research infrastructure and valorisation of knowledge. In the Dutch context the role of PPPs is on the rise. PPPs seem to be increasingly perceived as solutions to derive at a less fragmented and more strategically pointed research infrastructure as well as a way to better exploit knowledge generated within the available knowledge infrastructure. However, PPPs are only one way to attain those policy goals and various other mechanisms or policy interventions are available that might be used as well.

In order to better understand to what degree PPPs can be used for realising focus and mass and valorisation AWT requested a consortium of Dialogic and Technopolis to perform a quick scan in eight selected European countries. The aim of this quick scan is twofold:

  1. Appreciate how and the degree to which a selection of comparable European countries are dealing with the process of focus and mass in and valorisation of scientific research.
  2. Gain insight into the role played by PPPs in these two processes in countries selected.

Some of the conclusions in the report are:

As to the STI frameworks it can be concluded that the institutional setting against which processes of focus and mass and valorisation takes place is complex and varies tremendously between countries (limiting possibilities for immediate cross country learning). Most countries show idiosyncrasies that affect the way in which they deal with focus and mass in and valorisation of research and the sort of policy measures taken. The country studies revealed that in most countries considerable policy efforts are aimed at focus and mass and valorisation. However, policy turbulence - i.e. policy discussion and new policy initiatives - does not necessarily lead to major changes at the level of institutions and research groups. Boosting excellence in research and/or valorisation is a long-winded process which is not helped by frequent changes, which may even affect policy coherence negatively.

Policy rationales for aiming at focus and mass and valorisation may overlap in practice. As a result the two phenomena are sometimes hard to differentiate and causality between focus and mass on the one hand and valorisation on the other hand is fuzzy and hard to pinpoint. In the last few years we witness a development where focus is used as an instrument to guide research into areas that are relevant for the national industry, and in that way increase opportunities for (national) valorisation.

The various country studies revealed that working on focus and mass in practice means introducing of new instruments, new institutions and funding channels more than redirecting the course of the steamship of research itself as this is a slow process which cannot be accomplished overnight.
Formulation of overall economy wide STI strategies are most productive if linked to the formulation of tactical and especially operational strategies at the lower levels. Especially the tactical level is important as this seem to be the level where country specific research portfolios on selected technologies and themes can be formulated and made operational. The notion of focus and mass applies to all levels involved (international/EU; national; regional; local/institutional; research unit). A careful balance between vertical (focus and mass across the levels) and horizontal (i.e. focus and mass at each level) coordination is needed. Too much (or too less) concentration at one level could lead to fragmentation at other levels. In terms of vertical coordination between the highest levels (i.e. EU and national STI policy) some countries seem to use these levers (compared to the Netherlands) more intensively to influence the national STI infrastructure and/or agenda or pro-actively influence the EU-agenda than other countries.

Valorisation is increasingly part and parcel of standing policy. There are numerous policy instrument to arrive at and/or improve valorisation, ranging from stimulation collaboration between universities and private firms, stimulation entrepreneurship, creating spin-offs, merging GRI with universities, revising the mission of universities, changing funding criteria (i.e. changing in regulation and instrumentation) and so on. Especially the instrument of improving valorisation via - light tough - regulation is often underestimated. On the contrary, the importance (and frequency) of formal partnerships between universities and firms (usually involving PPP-constructions) in valorisation policy seems to be overestimated. However, similar to adjusting funding streams, the striving for valorisation is often embodied in new (types of) institutions
Apart from the well-known economic motivation for spurring valorisation, attention for societal valorisation is on the rise. There appears to be a trend across the board to put more emphasis on broader societal goals in STI policy (e.g., aging, social cohesion, sustainability etc.). leading to an upsurge of social sciences in applied research and a call for more multidisciplinary research.

  • Publication number
    2006.053-0702
  • Publication date
    15 January 2007
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  • Project ID
    2006.053
  • Commissioned by
    AWT
interested in this topic? Get in touch with Pim den Hertog
Senior partner / senior adviseur