About the project

Governments have implemented a wide range of policies to encourage innovation with a view to stimulating economic growth. These range from local interventions (such as the establishment of science parks designed to build local innovative clusters) to system-wide policies (such as R&D tax credits, public venture capital investment or innovation procurement programmes). Evidence for their impact, however, is often limited, widely dispersed and exists in many different forms – from academic research to internally-commissioned programme evaluations.

The amount of evidence varies according to the types of interventions. Some have received considerable attention from academics, with the lessons already summarised in comprehensive literature reviews. Other interventions have been studied in various settings, but the findings have yet to be summarised in a systematic way. For further interventions the evidence is still very scarce.

This project involved reviewing, analysing and summarising existing published work, drawing on empirical studies and government evaluation reports in addition to a wide range of academic literature. Thus the first task of the project was to define the topics, i.e. the fields of innovation policy, for which evidence will be reviewed. The project involved a rigorous process of defining the topics to be included in the analysis including a new, tailored synthesis of the major existing international typologies of innovation policy measures and an analysis of the portfolio of measures as compiled at EU level and in various countries.

The project resulted in around 20 sub-reports reflecting the selected intervention topics and one synthetic, overall concluding report which provides a comparative reflection on the major findings. Reports are available in the Compendium section. For each topic, the compendium includes an extensive list of references that present evidence for the effectiveness of that particular innovation policy. Some of these references are designated as key sources and short summaries are provided for these.

The project was funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) - an independent body with the mission to make the UK more innovative. The project ran between September 2011 and October 2013. Major UK policy makers also form the Project Steering Committee. More information can be found in the Sponsor & Partners section.

The project was led by the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR), University of Manchester. In addition to researchers from MIoIR, external experts made major contributions to the topic reports. An introduction to the project team can be found in the Project Team section.