1) Country reports: the input papers for the first round of policy dialogue

 Interview with Dr. Carlos Freire-Gibb, Aalborg University


The drafting of the country reports is a major scene-setting exercise which provides important input to the policy dialogue (itself a central pillar of the MIRRIS Project).  What is exactly a country report and what are the themes and indicators that are you studying?


There are 13 country reports for all the Member States that joined the EU since 2004 (NMS13). Each country profile attempts to give a brief overview of each national innovation system and, in the form of a case study as it were, to pinpoint factors that may affect participation of national research groups in EU-funded research programmes (e.g. Framework Projects).


What kind of resources are you using?  

Besides using data found in, for example, Eurostat and Eurobarometer, we are also trying to incorporate what other academic studies have found relevant for our particular case. After all, the literature and studies on innovation are vast.


What are some of the factors which are considered to drive or inhibit innovation? 

This depends on how one defines innovation

How do you define innovation then?

According to many innovation scholars there could be two ways of defining innovation. The first one basically focuses on high-tech and scientific innovation, with particular attention to certain companies or strong research groups. Innovation is often defined in this sense as ideas that create (commercial) value. The second may be defined as innovation in a broad sense, and may also look at how society in general innovates, and can include things such as education policy or labour laws, etc. Scholars and policy makers in general focus on the first definition, but in the case of MIRRIS, it is useful to take into consideration both scopes.
But to answer your previous question, between Coventry University and Aalborg University, with important input from EURADA and META Group among others, we have come up with a set of six themes and associated indicators. This includes: a) participation in R&D under FP7, b) economic and employment, c) scale and intensity of R&D&I activities, d) facilitators of innovation (in a broad sense), and e) other qualitative and contextual data on research and innovation (e.g. Commission recommendations for each Member State). In total, we are dealing with over 30 indicators, and after we have received the final feedback from the rest of the partners, we could decide to include or exclude certain indicators.

Have you already detected some surprising facts or figures or facts and figures which point to some surprising conclusions?

We are learning many things about these countries, and we are finding some interesting figures. But we are at a relatively early stage of the study. However, what is confirmed is that with a few exceptions, there are noticeable differences between the EU15 and the NMS13 regarding factors related to innovation and research participation, in general.


Although we are still at an early stage of the MIRRIS project, are you confident that you will be able to draw up comparable pictures for each of the 13 countries which form the target group? 


We understand this is fundamental and are working towards this goal.


 Anything else?

It is important to keep in mind that one of the main objectives of these country profiles is to serve to support discussion, not to draw conclusions. The local stakeholders who will take part in the upcoming policy dialogues will make the key contribution to the process.  


2) 8 steps for a successful Policy Dialogue
ZSI – Centre for Social Innovation

The aim of the MIRRIS project is to facilitate a Policy Dialogue on widening the participation of researchers from academia and industry in HORIZON 2020 from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
The tangible outcome of the Policy Dialogue should be an action plan with a roadmap and a list of prioritised interventions designed to increase the participation of the above mentioned countries in HORIZON 2020.

To implement a successful Policy Dialogue, the following eight steps have to be taken:
        • Committed leadership in each partner country and a shared readiness to implement a key stakeholder focused Policy Dialogue for the sake of identifying ways to increase the participation in HORIZON 2020 has to be secured. MIRRIS is ready to provide financial and intellectual capacities to facilitate such a Policy Dialogue.
        • MIRRIS experts will identify and establish together with the national key contact person in each country the agenda and schedule for implementing the planned three Policy Dialogue cycles. Flexibility to adjust the Policy Dialogue process to the needs of the partner country and the involved stakeholders will be ensured.
        • Based on a first proposition of MIRRIS, key stakeholders from the policy-making level, the implementation level and – if relevant– operational support institutions will be invited by the national key contact person to attend the Policy Dialogue cycles. Logistical support will be provided by MIRRIS.
        • The Policy Dialogue cycles will take into account national elections as well as already planned or implemented policy processes which deal with the issue of widening participation. In general, it is planned to implement the Policy Dialogues between spring 2014 and Winter 2014/2015.
        • The first Policy Dialogue cycle is about convening and issue focusing, the second one is on gap analysis, information exchange and discussion of national and – if relevant - regional SWOTs (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) vis-à-vis the issue of increasing participation in HORIZON 2020. The third Policy Dialogue cycle finally should be used to establish an action plan and a roadmap as well as a priority list of interventions to improve participation in HORIZON 2020.
        • MIRRIS will provide for the entire Policy Dialogue a moderator and a facilitator as well as targeted country reports to kick-off the first cycle. Based on the information needs generated by each policy cycle, MIRRIS will identify external expertise as well as inspiring cases on how other countries and/or organisations tackled the problem to increase their participation in previous Framework Programmes for RTD.
        • MIRRIS will collect all agreed upon action plans, roadmaps and suggestions for intervention from each partner country and will organise a large final policy conference where the issue of widening participation will receive a large forum for deliberation and for influencing and shaping the widening participation policies at European, intra-Member States and national level.
        • Upon request of the partner countries and provided that enough resources are available, the MIRRIS team will coach the implementation of a few pilot interventions aimed to increase participation in HORIZON 2020.