Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Strategic analysis for European S&T policy intelligence

Conclusions and policy implications of the project can be defined as follows:

A) One major set of results of the research is:

- The overall correlation between S&T activities and socio-economic development at national, but also, at regional level, even though particular cases show there are no mechanistic determinations,

- The very slow inter-regional convergence among EU regions in terms of S&T activities in spite of all the efforts made, which show the cohesion issue is to stay for some time in the political and the policy agendas,

- The need to take into account both national inter-country and regional intra-country dimensions in order to address properly the questions of convergence, since part of the problem lies in the national territorial dynamics.

This has major policy implications in the sense that it suggests to relate much more the EC S&T cohesion policies - Structural funds but also, to a certain extend the Framework programme - with the member-countries national territorial dimension of their S&T policies. This may be a very good case for better integration of EC and national policies - which would be all the more timely that there are possibilities of a reinforcement of divergence forces as the EMU is launched, along with continuing liberalization and de-regulation.

B) Another important set of results is the specific role of the EU MNFs regarding the linkages of the less favoured regions of the EU with the more developed regions: the less developed regions in the EU tend to have technological linkages - through EU multinational firms - oriented towards the more developed EU regions.

Thus the process is one in which companies:
- Learn from leading edge research in a particular location and use this knowledge to enhance the bulk of their technological capabilities, which are located at home,

- Play an important role both in terms of stimulating competition amongst domestic firms and in terms of 'knowledge spillovers' or learning benefits to local suppliers and customers, particularly in less developed regions where these firms may have subsidiaries.

A first policy implication of this second set of results is the need to have policies that enable domestic firms to learn and assimilate knowledge and techniques that have been created and developed elsewhere in the EU or in the world. The exact nature of such policies is a matter of debate and discussion but a crucial element has to be investments in the public infrastructure for training, R & D and related activities both at the EU and the national level.

A second policy implication is to think about S&T developments in less developed EU regions not only in terms of SMEs, but also in terms of linkages to the center via EU MNFs. This would then imply - in turn - to view EU MNFs as actors of the linkage between developed and less developed regions of the EU, and conceptualise cohesion policies accordingly.

But such broad assessments must be completed and adjusted when analysing the specificities of sectors, for example the ICT sector. The major result is here that the EU ICT science base is more internationalised than the US and Japanese science base, but that EU firms play a less prominent role in the EU science base in terms of level of research activities and collaboration as compared to the activities of US and Japanese companies in their home countries.

Furthermore, the EU science base of Telecommunications R&D is more developed and focused on intra-EU cooperation than the science base underlying R&D activities in Computers and Data Processing.

In terms of policy implications these results raise concerns on ICT both public and industrial research strategies: lack of interactions within and among institutions in the EU and insufficient industrial role can hardly go un-noticed in such a strategic area, where Europe is striving to keep its competitiveness. These result are - unfortunately - coherent with the macro analysis showing a continuing loss of technological and industrial positions to the US and Japan. Our research show that it is not the overall S&T activity level in ICT, which is at stake, but strategies and linkage patterns within and among EU public and industrial organizations.

A larger implication is that some features of a 'EU innovation system' (EUIS) are emerging, which deserves an understanding and a monitoring through the recognition of this phenomenon as such. The steps from a pluri-national to a somewhat integrated EUIS are certainly not a 'natural' process, but can only result from political will embodied in policies shared not only by the governments, but also by all the actors concerned, including industry and public research institutions.

Reported by

Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques
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Evaluation - Policies