Science, technology and innovation policy

Assessing the Impacts of Public Research Systems


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A workshop on "Assessing the Impacts of Public Research Systems", was organised by the OECD on 2-3 May 2016 in Paris, France.

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  • Provide new evidence on the impacts of public research on innovation and the contributions of its policies.
  • Create opportunities for exchanging ‘best practices’ in evaluation of public research policies aimed at building industry-university linkages.

This work is conducted in the context of the Knowledge Triangle Project and implemented under the auspices of the OECD TIP Working Party and the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP).


The increasing importance of knowledge-based capital for competitiveness, and the high growth potential of many science-based activities, provide large rewards to those countries where firms have access to a strong research base and have the ability to use research findings to innovate.

OECD countries invest substantial public resources in R&D conducted at universities and public research institutes (reaching more than USD 220 billion in 2012) with the aim of spurring innovation and economic growth. However, evidence on R&D impacts is scarce. In a context of tight public budgets, assessing the contributions of public research to innovation is critical.

Critical policy questions for analysis include:

  • Are there complementarities or trade-offs between the education, research and innovation roles of universities?

  • How do public research policies differ across countries and what is the impact on outcomes

  • What are the contributions of research in different scientific disciplines to industry?

Project Activities

The project has three strands of work:

1. Characterising different university systems and their impacts

The objective is to provide new empirical evidence on the impacts of university systems on research, education and innovation outcomes. There are two topics for analysis: (1) Characterisation of different national university systems; and (2) Characteristics of university systems and impacts on innovation at regional level.

2. Mapping of public research policies

The objective is to develop cross-country indicators of the governance of public research policies. Such comparable data will allow for learning about cross-country differences in policy approaches.

3. Assessing the contribution of specific scientific disciplines to industrial innovation

The objective is to provide evidence on the contributions of specific scientific disciplines to specific industry sectors. Such evidence allows for better identifying research priorities and contributions in view of industry needs. This activity also analyses the different metholodogical approaches for best conducting such assessments.





Past Events

  • Workshop on "Assessing the Impacts of Public Research Systems"- Lisbon, April 2015 (PDF)

  • CSTP Workshop on Assessing the Impact of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments with Common Objectives – Paris, October 2014

  • OECD-Estonia Workshop on Impact Assessment: Practices, Techniques and Policy Challenges – Tallin, May 2014

Relevant OECD Reports


Enhancing Public Research Performance through Evaluation, Impact Assessment and Priority Setting

Turning science into business

Turning Science into Business - Patenting and Licensing at Public Research Organisations (2003)

Commercialising Public Research: New Trends and Strategies

Commercialising Public Research - New Trends and Strategies (2013)

Promoting Research Excellence - New Approaches to Funding (2014)

The OECD Knowledge Triangle Project


The Impact Assessment of Innovation Policy Project is a module of the Knowledge Triangle Project.
The CSTP/TIP project on the knowledge triangle will examine factors that can enhance the capacity of education, research and innovation actors in the knowledge triangle to tackle jointly economic and social challenges while enhancing the responsiveness, adaptability and flexibility of local, national or international innovation eco-systems. The project will draw on recent TIP work regarding the commercialisation of public research”, open science, smart specialisation and public/private partnerships in STI.


Ms. Caroline Paunov, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation


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