Consultants Avedas, LOGOTECH and CWTS carried out an independent study for the Commission on the medium to long-term impact of FP6 IST. The main goal of the study was to find out what happened with the results of the research programme after some years and to draw lessons for the future. The study results are based on solid evidence gathered (big survey with 1619 returned questionnaires that were filled out completely and 50 case studies).
The overall assessment of FP6 IST is positive. It was found that the main contribution is in exploratory research and networking, with many beneficial effects in other domains including important indirect effects. Exploitation however was found to be weak. While output on the project level is generally estimated as effective and competitive, when estimating outcome and impact of the programme after some years, the positive effects quickly vanished.
The main underlying mechanism that explains the rapid drop down is the degree to which a project is crucial to the participating organizations. Most coordinators of virtually all organization types recognized SMEs as the main innovation actors in projects. In the case of commercialisation, SMEs often played the role of a catalyst or driver, driving exploitation towards marketable products and services. But very few SMEs tend to bet their company on the expected results of an FP project; the project is important but not core to their business strategy but they see it more as a complement to their activities.
The report provides a number of ideas and recommendations on how to refine our strategy for more innovation and offering a better track to exploitation:
- Enhancing the role of European SMEs as key innovation actors
- Drawing attention and focus of Programme participants on market innovation
- Reviewing the existing rules for IPR
- Strengthening international cooperation, targeting world leading scientists
- Promoting a more innovation-oriented mentality at the level of programme design.