This report summarises the main issues explored and discussed at the training workshop as well as reports on the main messages from the sessions.
The rationale for the workshop is well expressed in the conclusions of the Compendium of evidence on innovation policy project:
‘Governments have implemented a wide range of policies to encourage innovation with a view to stimulating economic growth. ….. Evidence for their impact, however, is often limited, widely dispersed and exists in many different forms – from academic research to internally-commissioned programme evaluations’. Source: Compendium of Evidence on Innovation Policy, http://www.innovation-policy.org.uk/compendium/
The aim of training workshop was to provide an introductory and systematic overview of theoretical, design and implementation issues related to the innovation policy studies – body of knowledge scattered between academic papers, consultancy reports, policy documents and evaluations. The workshop followed definition adopted in the UK NESTA Compendium project which defines innovation policy as ‘public intervention to support the generation and diffusion of new products, processes or services’. This encompasses a broad array of policies, programmes, and initiatives which directly or indirectly encourage innovation.
The three days training workshop (TW) covered the wide of range of theoretical, design and implementation issues relevant to the practice of innovation policy. The main part of the workshop was an exploration of Croatian innovation policy in all three dimensions: its theoretical basis, design issues and implementation opportunities and challenges (see the program in Annexe).
The program was broadly structured in three major areas: the first day was focused on the innovation policy support for SMEs; the second day on issues related to smart specialisation; and third day on the emerging new issues in innovation policy. However, each of three days was also enriched by presentations of academic papers and analyses of Croatian scholars which were reviewed and discussed by resource persons. Also, each of three days was closed by a panel discussion which brought together Croatian and foreign researchers and policy makers and administrators. All presentations and background papers are uploaded on TW platform Moodle.
Innovation policy for SMEs
This session has brought state of the art understanding of policy for supporting SMEs (Tseokuras, Wintjes, Radosevic). Subsequent discussion has enabled to compare state of the art with current Croatian support for SMEs (Aralica, Jurisic, Sesnic).
The overall conclusion was that there is a need to improve quality and ambition of SMEs support in Croatia into more explicit innovation support, i.e., to increase their absorptive capacity. A current policy focus is on inputs, not on outputs, impact and outcomes. The main challenges are in the relationship between agency and ministries, in how to support beneficiaries, how to bring other sources of funding and about the overall roles and responsibilities in the innovation system.
Innovation policy instruments, smart specialisation and Croatia
This session gave a brief inventory of innovation policy instruments as developed by The Compendium project. Prof Jakob Edler presented the overall lessons and conclusions on policies to enhance systemic capabilities and complementarities. In continuation, presentation focus was on two major neglected dimensions of innovation policy – demand side and public procurement. Also, participants were introduced to Science & Innovation Policy Evaluations Repository (http://www.si-per.eu/).
Croatian smart specialisation policy was introduced by Marija Rajakovic from Ministry of Economy which was followed by panel discussion on benefits and challenges of the current implementation of this significant policy investment in Croatia. The overall conclusion is that there is the huge unexploited potential of demand side policies in Croatia, especially public procurement. Also, there has been agreement that there is need to enhance Croatian innovation policy framework towards GVC.
Prof Radosevic then presented his assessment of the EU S3 in the context of the other emerging new industrial innovation policies in the world based on the completed international book-project.
A valuable addition to the discussion was a presentation on the different discourses on Croatian innovation policy which have been analysed by Ms Mrsic from the perspective of discursive institutionalism.
New issues in innovation policy and Croatian context
This session has focused on two new major issues in innovation policy: Grand challenges and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Both were introduced by Prof Stefan Kuhlman. The subsequent discussion has demonstrated a significant gap between these two state of the art approaches and the practice of Croatian innovation policy.
Panel discussion on these issues has shown that a new RDI system in Croatia which has evolved after 2013 is driven by the EU Structural funds and S3. Before 2013 Croatian innovation policy could have been described as ‘research-based’ while today country is moving towards ‘national entrepreneurship system’ idea with a strong focus on support to SMEs.
On the other hand, there have been arguments that R&D organisations have managed to ‘play the game’ in their favour by pointing to the strong capacity of R&D organisations to accommodate any change to their needs. The argument is that despite seeming re-orientation of R&D system, scientific papers continue to be the major output of projects. SMEs are under the radar of Research Organisations, typically large. The overall effect of the current support on R&D organisations will be an upgrade of their infrastructure through ERDF which will enable them to be better equipped to implement RD projects in H2020.
The counter-argument was that almost all activities are funded by EU Structural Funds (SF) so that Croatian innovation policy is de facto a cohesion policy. The majority of SF is focused on SMEs, and is a common view that science base has suffered in this process.
Given the diversity of views on this issue it seems that this topic is worth further research: whether cohesion funds and national R&D funds in Croatia operate as complements, as substitutes or are in a non-systematic relationship?
Analytical contributions on Croatian innovation policy
Important part of TW were presentations of papers by Croatian authors on different aspects of Croatian innovation policy (assessment of institutional framework on S3 and its phases- Aralica; The discourse analysis of Croatian innovation policy – Mrsic, Evaluating innovation policy in Western Balkan; Analysis based on smart city indicators of Croatian large cities; Analysis of synergies between EU Structural Funds and H2020 – Racic and Švarc). These presentations and background papers were reviewed by invited resources persons (Tseokuras, Bruno, Wintjes, Kuhlmann and Edler). They were complemented by policy focused presentations on SMEs support in the City of Zagreb, experiences in implementation of innovation programs in Croatia, recommendations for innovation policies for the Adriatic region, and the state of implementation of S3 in Croatia)
- TW has been very useful three days for participants as it brought them to state of the art ideas and the issues related to innovation policy
- TW has enabled Croatian researchers to present in the presence of the resource persons areas and receive very useful and constructive suggestions on how to make their work internationally publishable.
- TW has been early opportunity to bring together Croatian scholars in the area of innovation policy analysis and give them opportunity to discuss Croatian situation in the comparative international context
- TW has enabled in-depth assessment of Croatian innovation policy and has clearly shown the gaps and challenges as well as directions for further improvements.
- Finally, TW was an opportunity for establishing relationships between foreign resource persons and Croatian academics and administrators which will form the basis for further cooperation possibilities in either R&D or policy related activities.
Training Workshop programme can be seen here.