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Posted: June 7, 2008

European innovation policies are expanding but governance structures show continuity

(Nanowerk News) All over Europe, innovations are seen as key sources of competitiveness and social wellbeing. This has created the need to evaluate and develop the management of innovation policies, conclude new study commissioned by the VISION Era-Net consortium Nine VISION Era-Net partners commissioned a study on the reasons for changes in science, technology and innovation policies and analysed factors that will shape the development and management of innovation policies in the future. The study covered the following countries and regions: the Netherlands, Estonia, Ireland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Belgian Flanders.
Although the situation in each of these countries varies, the future challenges to reforming innovation policies remain the same. Each country sees innovations as increasingly important elements of economic competitiveness and social wellbeing.
The concept of innovation is expanding to cover more comprehensively the various forms of innovation activities, such as services and social innovations. This means there are more actors, topics and problems to be solved in the policies. In the future, the need to manage innovation policies over sectoral boundaries will increase further.
Renewal means the courage to abandon outdated operational models
The study suggests that management structures of innovation policies are very static and not likely to change very much. They have been created over a long period of time and are often based on informal practices which are difficult to change. However, the change is not always necessary because informal and open discussion channels are essential to renewal and innovation.
When the content of the policies changes and old structures remain the same, different countries create more new administrative structures, which increase the complexity of administration and the need for co-ordination. The study remarked that this is not the way in which to answer the challenges facing innovation policies.
“If countries wish to significantly renew their innovation policies, they should also have the courage to abandon outdated activities and operational models,” says Mari Hejlt, the Research Director in charge of the survey. The study was conducted within the VISION Era-Net network co-ordinated by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Tekes is one of the members of the consortium.
The research project was implemented by Gaia Consulting Oy (Finland) and Dialogic Innovation & Interaction B.V. (the Netherlands) in collaboration with the participants of the VISION Era-Net project. Over 60 interviews, a questionnaire study and country-specific discussion events were conducted during the study.
The results of the study have been published in the report "Major challenges for the governance of national research and innovation policies in small European countries" (pdf download; 1.7 MB).
Read more and access country-specific here.
Additional information:

Hannes Toivanen, VISION Era-Net co-ordinator, Ministry of Employment and the Economy,

tel. +358 10 606 2059

Pekka Pesonen, Tekes, tel. +358 10 60 55 804

Mari Hjelt, Gaia Consulting Oy, tel. +358 40 8236991

Source: VISION Era-Net