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Supporting experimentation in innovation agencies


To incentivise innovation agencies to engage more in policy experimentation and to use RCTs to evaluate the impact of their schemes, and to encourage ""innovating the innovation support system"" through brand new schemes or significantly improved ones[[A ""new scheme"" means ""new to the world"", not just new to the applicant agency; ""significantly improved"" refers to adapting an existing scheme – either making more effective a scheme already in place in the agency, or adapting to local specificities a scheme successfully used in another country.]], the European Commission proposes two types of grants to innovation agencies which wish to innovate their innovation support schemes addressed at SMEs and start-ups. Both types of grants should include testing using RCTs. Financial support to third parties as a direct support to SMEs is possible if required for RCTs (please refer to the grant conditions for this topic).

  1. Strand 1: Grants for small-scale experimental pilot projects which aim to

    Innovation support agencies, i.e. the regional and national agencies that design and/or implement innovation support programmes for SMEs are important intermediaries for SME innovation. Focus, design and delivery mechanism of innovation support programmes determine to a large extent the economic impact from the supported actions and the satisfaction of the beneficiaries with the support provided.

    With new business models and technologies emerging, it is more important than ever that innovation support agencies constantly adapt and innovate in the way that they provide support. Yet, innovation support agencies rarely engage in policy experimentation - for lack of funds, time pressure to deliver new support, and the fear of a backlash against 'money wasting'.

    At the same time, there is a linked problem that evidence on the effectiveness of both existing and proposed new support mechanisms is limited and inconclusive[[For example, 2013 ""Compendium of Evidence on the Effectiveness of Innovation Pol

    • The number of innovation agencies engaged in policy experimentation significantly increases.
    • Use of RCTs in design and testing of innovation support schemes significantly increases.
    • A broad range of new or significantly improved SME innovation support schemes are investigated and developed and their impact rigorously tested. Pilot agencies scale up these new schemes.