The report “Economic Footprint Study: Impact of 9 European RTOs in 2015-2016” released by the European Association of Research & Technology Organisations (EARTO) on 1 March, highlights the economic impact from the activities of Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) in Europe. In short, RTOs bridge the gap between basic research and practical application, by producing, integrating and transferring science and technology.

The study, based on data from nine of EARTO’s members, shows the aggregated economic effects (in 2016) of these nine organisations. The value created includes:

  • 284 000 jobs
  • € 35.8 billion in revenue
  • € 16.8 billion in value added
  • € 6.7 billion in fiscal and parafiscal return to governments

These effects come from the RTOs‘ collaborative contract research with large companies and SMEs, their involvement in creating spin-offs in high-tech areas, and their transfer of highly-skilled people with valuable knowledge to the private sector. On top of this, also included in the figures above, RTOs generate economic value through employment and revenue, purchase of goods and services, and also including that of their suppliers and employees.

As indicated above, there can be great direct and indirect economic effects coming out of cooperation between RTOs and SMEs. Among the regions engaged in Interreg Europe there are many focussing on promoting such collaborative R&D efforts. One of the projects of the Research and innovation topic for example, INNO INFRA SHARE, was formed with the specific goal of improving accessibility and exploitation of research and innovation infrastructure assets by SMEs.

In addition, the good practices submitted to the Policy Learning Platform database also reflect that regions want to strengthen such cooperation. Different kinds of innovation vouchers are one recurring type of good practice used to stimulate and lower the barriers for SMEs to engage with research organisations.

The study shows that one job in an RTO created four jobs elsewhere in Europe, and that governments got three euros in return of every euro invested as operational grants. Given this leverage of jobs and money invested, strengthening and promoting regional and national RTOs could be of great interest to policy makers as part of supporting growth and job creation.

Examples of good practices from the Policy Learning Platform good practice database: