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Global Value Chains as an Emerging Challenge for National and European RTD Policies

Final Report Summary - GLOVAL (Global Value Chains as an Emerging Challenge for National and European RTD Policies)

Summary description of project context and objectives

The wealth of nations is increasingly generated through Global value chains (GVCs). A consequence of GVCs is that the benefits and impacts of research become more widely dispersed. The critical question for policy makers is: whether and how Research and technological development (RTD) support policies can be designed and executed in order to get the best possible (national / regional) results for the (national / regional) money invested.

The logic of the work (packages) was analyse and validate the problem, find and study good cases and from these good cases creates decision and analysis tools for project managers to help in their investment decisions.

Work package 1: Problem analysis

The objectives for work package 1: Problem analysis were:
- to achieve a clear, shared understanding of the present and future development of GVCs in relation to the interest and needs of RTD policy practitioners;
- to refine the hypothesis of a misfit between widespread RTD policy practice in Europe and the activities of GVCs.

All participants conducted interviews with program managers of programs believed to be interesting from a GVC-perspective. One major conclusion from the interviews was that GVC are relevant for program managers, but ad hoc-dependent and dependent on the program manager's knowledge of their areas of expertise, and not explicitly included in the program policy. The aim was to substantiate and clarify the hypothesis that GVC-related project proposals are quite frequent, and sometimes problematic, for the RTD mangers, often result in sub-optimal funding decision because narrow evaluation logic is applied. The purpose was not a complete statistical survey but to accumulate sufficient evidence to be able to convince RTD policy practitioners more generally in Europe that the problem is real and need to be tackled.

The theoretical part of the work package was written by Professor Alexandra Waluszewski, Uppsala University. It was gradually -interactively with project partners developed to a chain of reports. And containing both cases-descriptions and typology. The final report showed convincingly the misfit between RTD policies and GVCs.

Work package 2: Validation of problem analysis

The objectives for work package 2: Validation of problem analysis were:
- to validate the findings of work package 1 through discussion with RTD policy practitioners from all European Union (EU) countries as well as from the European institutions;
- to raise awareness among the largest possible number of RTD policy practitioners of the challenges posed by GVCs for RTD policy;
- to mobilise the participation of the largest possible number of RTD policy practitioners for the later stages of the project.

The idea with this work package was to validate the findings from the work package 1: Problem analysis in three workshops with policy practitioners from other countries and European institutions. And raise awareness of the problem and mobilise interest to participate in the project. The three workshops were in Vienna, Stockholm and Ljubljana. The first workshop was in Vienna. And there the lack of problem awareness was evident. It was difficult to find external interest for the project and in the group discussions there was some skepticism about the hypothesis. When planning for the second workshop in Stockholm we had the same problems as in Vienna. We among others found it difficult to get participation from people in our own organisation in VINNOVA i.e. programme managers not directly involved in the project. But in parallel to planning for the next workshop we had started a recruiting process and had found new interested 'partners to be'. We therefore focused our workshop on them, INNO, PERA, PtJ, BICRO (Croatia), TEMAS and the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Industry (TEM).

With the aim to continue the analysis of the problem and get a presentation of the planned contributions (cases) from them and group discussions around the validity of the problem analysis. In this case, the lack of problem awareness and the theoretical report of Alexandra Waluszewski.

The third workshop in Ljubljana had three components. One was an innovation policy presentation of external experts from Slovenia and Sweden. Another was focused on the work package 3: Case studies. Among others a detailed presentation of the planned Finnish case studies contribution in cooperation between TEM, TEKES and ADVANSIS. And the result of the work package 3: Case studies from the original five partners presented by IWT and a summary of status reports (midterm reports) from them. The workshop was also a kick-off for work package 4: Typology and tools conducted by PERA.

Work package 3: Case studies

The experience from work package 1: Problem analysis made it clear that now when starting with cases we had to be 'humble'. It was not so easy as we had anticipated in the project proposal i.e. to have a group of 'bad' cases and then focus on 'good' cases. We hadn't found any bad cases and actually feared that we wouldn't find good cases either. So we now tried to find cases with some GVC relevance. And learn from them IWT presented an ambitious and elaborated draft template for the analysis and presentation of cases in the Stockholm management meeting on 19 February. After that followed a period when partners commented and discussed the draft template and chose and studied cases. It was an important step forward in the project. IWT had made a summary of all SME-cases and presented the results in the Brussels meeting 3 June. All partners had contributed so there was a rather broad inventory of cases from different programs. The most detailed analysis was coupled to SME3 programs. But programs with grants to universities, research institutes and competence centres were also in the survey. And later after amendment and adding five new partners to the project the case studies covered a broad range of programme types. IWT also made an international bench mark study encompassing 7 non-partner regions and 17 Research, development and innovation (RDI) support programmes. All confirm earlier analysis: valorisation on the applicant level is an essential selection criterion, valorisation on the nation / region level is often not an explicit selection criterion, GVCs is not a big issue in innovation funding schemes and the GVC- when discovered in ex-ante evaluation-was regarded as a burden rather than an asset.

Work package 4: Typology and tools

The objective here was to develop a comprehensive typology of outputs from GVC project investments and a practical appraisal tool when evaluating and deciding in GVC RTD cases. The result is firstly a literature report showing both the misfit between policy and the business world and also that the result from investments is a complex mix of interdependent effects in the developing, producing and using settings. And secondly, there is a typology created as a result of detailed analysis by all GLOVAL partners of the known Research and technological development (RTD) programmes in their regions and countries.

From the typology a draft decision making tool was discussed in workshops prior to the expansion of the GLOVAL project team and finally developed in the workshop in London in September 2011. This draft was validated both 'remotely' in the partner organisation and in a workshop in Ljubljana and resulted in the deliverable 'Innovation guidance framework'.

Work package 5: Communication, extension, dissemination

The objectives were to raise awareness among policy practitioners about GVCs in RTD investment situations, to recruit new partners in the project and disseminate the results. The GLOVAL website (please see online) published in the beginning of the project contains information about the project. Within the project we identified and invited several new partners to the project. Five of them agreed to prepare contributions to the project and become official partners of the GLOVAL project: TEMAS, RAMBOLL, INNO Group, PERA and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

The final end-of-project conference was organised by TIA in Ljubljana in October 2011. Because of the specific topic that GLOVAL project is addressing and the result and despite several attempts by project consortium to reach policy officials from different parts of Europe only few of the government officials (from Slovenia) were able to attend the conference.

Summary and future work

The GLOVAL project has confirmed that an increasingly globalised context is becoming a significant issue among the partners. We expect therefore that the tool produced in GLOVAL project will be a useful addition to the arsenal available to four policy makers and practitioners as there is a need to continue the development of policies that suit the landscape of increasingly global practice. While GLOVAL produces a tool for policy practitioners, it is foreseen that further development of policies and methodologies is needed so that theories can become practice.

The policy case studies from practice in the partner countries broadened the view on how global value chain aspects are managed by national agencies and were valuable for the design of the decision-making tool. However, as no case studies provided a complete answer there is a need to develop the tool further. In the light of the limited empirical experiences in this field in Europe this can only be done by testing the tool in practical environments and to evaluate the experiences made.

With the case studies from practice in the partner countries, a number of possible benefits from regional R&D funding were identified. Among these benefits, a lot of them have to be placed in the global value chain where the R&D projects are carried out and where the results are being exploited. The case studies also illustrated that most regions use a qualitative method to consider these benefits in het evaluation phase of R&D projects. Further, it also became clear that national policy contexts, objectives and measures are different, which makes development of a universal quantitative tool impossible, as projects are evaluated within the national framework of policies and objectives. Within the GLOVAL project it was therefore not possible to develop a quantitative decision tool.