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More and better designed national public support for energy technology Research and Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTSPEND (More and better designed national public support for energy technology Research and Innovation)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

SMARTSPEND’s mission is “more and better designed public support for energy technology R&I” with a focus on national support. By working on public support, the project wants indirectly to stimulate spending by industry on R&D. Industry funding of R&D is like dark matter: it makes up 80% of all spending but is not directly observable. The part of industry funding that is addressable with research policy is the part that is spent on projects cofunded with public money. The challenge of increasing private spending here is therefore the challenge of increasing the efficiency, relevance and quantity of public funding.

More spending on R&D = faster progress in clean energy technology = quicker and/or cheaper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and better chances of keeping the planet generally hospitable to human and non-human life.
SMARTSPEND has created delegations of roughly five people (managers in companies active in low-carbon energy, or in research organisations) who have visited governments in three countries (Italy, France and Geramny) to urge those governments to better support energy technology R&I in their country and in Europe. In meetings of an hour or two they described the main results of EU projects they have been involved in (and sometimes how EU funding compares to national funding), urged the country to use all the means at their disposal increase transnational cooperation in energy and discussed policies boosting the take-up of low-carbon energy technologies. Visits to more countries have been planned.

The forum for European coordination is the SET Plan (Strategic Energy Technology Plan). Governments have been urged to ensure the work proposed by this forum is adequately funded. This has happened at two levels: through the meetings mentioned above and through interactions at lower level, in sub-fora of the SET Plan known as Implementation Working Groups, which each cover a different low-carbon energy sector. Early in SMARTSPEND, a report was prepared identifying the common ground between the “Implementation Plans” that these groups have written, “Overlapping interests: a description of the common ground between Implementation Plans”. The partners brought it to the attention of the IWG leaders and challenged them to exploit the synergies.

Spreading knowledge of the availability of funding or financing for energy R&I, and commenting on the features missing from this funding landscape is another task of SMARTSPEND. Reports have been prepared, soon to be released, of availa ble EU and national funding (“Funding instruments for energy innovation”), and “Analysis of industry’s funding needs”, which looks at the gaps.

They will be discussed at two public conferences that SMARTSPEND will hold, one online on 11-1500 30 September (speakers have been invited – details on the SMARTSPEND website) and another in-person in Brussels in spring 2021. The target audience is those with energy R&I projects that need funding or financing (technology developers) and those who could provide funding or financing (providers of grants, banks or investors).
The project expects to achieve

*) greater efficiency in the allocation of public funding

*) deeper relationships with governments and companies and research organisations developing new low-carbon technology via high-level meetings, contact to the SET Plan Steering Group and Implementation Working Groups, and to EU-funded projects with similar projects (JA-2)

It expects to

*) update knowledge of the funding landscape for, building on previous reports and make the means available better suited to technology developers with capturing and relaying to the European Commission and national funding authorities their recommendations

*) attract many people to a conference where key messages from these reports are summarised and discussed. Knowledge of EU funding instruments, including the news ones launched to counter the coronavirus economic crisis, will be shared

*) improve the “user experience” of the SET Plan, by helping groups that semi-officially represent the R&I interest in different low carbon technologies come to a settled view on the form of relationship they would like with the EC.
SMARTSPEND delegation met the BMWi (Gerrman Federal Ministry of Economy) on 3 Dec 2019