Advisory report 27: Vision on a good policy mix between free and thematic support for R&D in Flanders
With this advice, VARIO responds to the request by vice-minister president Crevits for a vision on “a good policy mix in Flanders between the rather traditional bottom-up channels and a more thematic/mission-oriented approach”.
VARIO conducted a quantitative analysis of the relationship between free (bottom-up) and thematic (top-down) Flemish R&D resources, and its evolution over the past ten years. Among other things, the analysis shows that:
- Almost all categories of Flemish R&D resources have grown in absolute terms.
- Free resources account for more than two thirds of the total, but show a slight downward trend from approximately 70% to approximately 66.5%.
- The budgets for the strategic research centers represent about half of the thematic resources.
- Within thematic resources, the strongest increase over time is for initiatives with mission-like characteristics. The Moonshot is the clearest example of such initiatives.
VARIO attaches great importance to strong bottom-up channels. However, there are no objective criteria to determine the correct numerical proportions in relation to top-down resources. VARIO therefore puts forward a number of principles in its recommendations:
- Provide a clear strategic framework with clear long-term objectives.
- Make objective, clear and steady choices and keep them broad.
- Set up policy mix evaluations and examine how each instrument individually, as well as the total mix of instruments, contributes to the objectives.
- Keep the effective achievement of goals or missions in mind and look beyond financial resources.
- Preserve and nurture bottom-up channels
- Create optimal conditions for companies to contribute to goals and missions.
- Keep the support instruments simple and transparent.
- Invest sufficiently in policy-supporting research from all policy areas in function of evidence-based policy.