VARIO-Advisory Report 27: Vision on a good policy mix between free and thematic support for R&D in Flanders

A good mix cannot be quantified, but VARIO puts forward a number of principles

VARIO-Advisory Report 27: Vision on a good policy mix between free and thematic support for R&D in Flanders

With this new advice, VARIO responds to a question from vice-minister president Crevits in reaction to an earlier VARIO-advisory report on the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

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, including:

  • Think more in terms of cross-policy objectives and look beyond financial resources;
  • Monitor ex-post the societal impact of bottom-up initiatives;
  • For thematic programs, keep the themes broad to maintain sufficient competition in applications.

VARIO-advisory report 27