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Building and improving support for RTD policy and public spending

Final Report Summary - BIS-RTD (Building and Improving Support for RTD Policy and Public Spending)

Innovation is a cornerstone of the 'Lisbon strategy' launched by the European Council in March 2000, and emphasised by subsequent European Councils, in particular at Barcelona in 2002. While innovation policies take place mostly at the national and regional levels, the Member States and the European Commission shall intensify their cooperation for the strengthening of innovation in the European Union, including coordination and assessment mechanisms for mutual learning, as well as for taking stock of progress achieved. BIS-RTD aimed at establishing a permanent cooperation platform among European regions to facilitate the emergence and circulation of good practices and contribute to RTD policy making coordination, so as to ensure the spreading and (partial) adoption of effective adoption models of good practices.

As a result of the project's research, a number of key findings were produced. Most important of all was that political parties are not yet able to translate their support to building knowledge society into commitments to place RTD funding into the very centre of policies required for the successful implementation of knowledge society programmes. This can partly be interpreted as the result of failure of politicians to fully understand the direct link between RTD funding and improvement of knowledge-based competitiveness at the macro and micro levels.

Another key finding was that the research communities do not play a sufficiently proactive role in building public support for RTD funding, and do not use appropriate messages when communicating and lobbying with governments, parliamentary representatives, and the media. The mere raising of RTD funding levels is not enough. Equally important is to improve the funding systems, by rewarding quality, encouraging excellence, and applicability. This cannot be achieved without effective reforms of the mostly outdated systems of quasi-budgetary RTD funding (instead of competitive project funding, RTD institutions are being funded), and without much stronger involvement of the users (specially from the corporate sector) in the process of priority setting, and finally approval of public funding for specific research projects needed to support technological advance of the region / country concerned.

The BIS-RTD executive summary guidelines deliver a strong and specific message about RTD funding and communication policies. It is a short document, clearly written and structured. It is therefore a good tool to promote actions among RTD policy and decision makers.

BIS-RTD partners agree that best practice sharing is one of the best ways to improve their own RTD policies and will therefore try to maintain a working and information relationship using the BIS-RTD website (please see online) as a common working space. The web will be operational at least for the next three years after the project end.