Measuring the public sector impact of EU-funded research

From: Databank Consulting
Published: Mon Apr 25 2005

‘Building The Knowledge Economy in Public Services - The role of EU Research’ is the result of 30 months work by a team of European researchers who analysed the socio-economic and industrial impacts of a selection of projects carried out under the European Commission’s Telematics Application Programme II (TAP), funded under its Fourth Framework Programme, and the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme, part of its Fifth Framework Programme.

In total, 134 projects in the public services sector were surveyed while in depth case studies were carried out on 19 TAP and eight IST projects, most of which ended during 2003.

"What we discovered was truly eye-opening," explains Bea Ballero at Databank Consulting in Italy, the technical manager of the MEASURE project that conducted the study. "Our findings show that EU-funded initiatives played a strategic role in transforming research in the public sector, increasing innovation, building networks of multidisciplinary and multinational collaboration, and creating a new mindset about how to do things."

The greatest success of the TAP and IST programmes, the study indicates, has been their ability to foment collaboration between academia and industry with the public sector, ensuring a user-centred approach toward the development of IT solutions.

"Such an approach is now considered best practice," Ballero says. "Intense collaboration in the projects has also led to the creation of extensive collaboration networks, with project partners continuing to work together even after a project ends and thereby adding continuity to research and innovation."

This is significant because frequently the research processes are more important than the end products. The study found that only around 10 per cent of the TAP and IST projects studied saw their results implemented upon conclusion, with more than half of the project participants describing the main results as intangible.

"The main benefits they saw were things like increased knowledge, enhanced networking and improved competitiveness," the technical manager says. "The main reason that many results failed to be immediately implemented was because participants had underestimated the difficulty of implementing IT solutions in the public sector."

Even though there are "islands of innovation" – resulting from the implementation of project results – the study concludes that a better balance needs to be found between "project objectives and reality" to ensure more widespread implementation.

That, combined with greater flexibility to allow project goals to be updated in line with the technological and market evolution, would serve to enhance the social benefits of research, the study indicates.

With the FP7 Programme currently being designed, the European Commission has received MEASURE’s findings "enthusiastically," Ballero says, and is due to take the recommendations on board.

Contact: Tara Morris, +32-2-2861985,
Company: Databank Consulting
Contact Name: Bea Ballero
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: +39-02-72107514

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