EU Science Hub

State Aid Rules in Research, Development & Innovation


The global economy is becoming more and more innovation-driven. Therefore, Research and Knowledge Dissemination Organisations (RDOs) need to take an ever more active role in translating knowledge into innovation, to fuel economic growth, jobs and competitiveness. This not only necessitates that RDOs collaborate more closely with a broad range of partners, including industry, but also that they embrace new innovative models through science parks, shared research infrastructures, innovation clusters or similar catalysts. Such activities often involve intensive interaction between publicly funded RDOs and industry – e.g. in the form of R&D-collaboration, the outsourcing of R&D-services to RDOs, knowledge transfer or the sharing of RDO-infrastructure. While these activities are desirable from an innovation and industrial-policy point of view, they may involve an element of public support. Such public support could constitute ‘State aid’ to one or more of the parties involved – the RDO and/or the undertakings, depending on the circumstances. The present work is the result of over one year of discussions among experts and European Commission (EC) staff from the different relevant services in order to provide guidelines in the form of a decision tree for research organisations when dealing with the current EC rules and regulations on State Aid in Research and Innovation. The document is intended to provide technical clarification and should not be interpreted as a piece of legislation.