A Research Grant to Study Research GrantsTHANK TO FUNDING FROM THE ACADEMIC RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE, JEROME ADDA AND MARCO OTTAVIANI WILL STUDY THE IMPACT OF RESEARCH GRANTS ON INNOVATION
EPO, the European Patent Office, awarded Jérôme Adda and Marco Ottaviani, Full Professors at Bocconi Department of Economics, a research grant to investigate the impact of research grants on patents and, broadly, on innovation.
The EPO Academic Research Program received 58 applications and awarded four grants.
Since relatively little is known on the best mix of policy tools that governments should deploy to encourage innovation, Adda and Ottaviani’s project focuses on the interaction of two classic tools that have been widely employed to encourage and protect innovation: public funding of research through grants and intellectual property protection through patents.
“We want to understand how the design of research funding can be improved to increase its impact on innovation; in which areas research funding does impact innovation the most; how basic research in different fields affects innovation; what are the costs and benefits of having programs targeting specific research areas rather than broad disciplines and for programs dedicated to young researchers,” says Prof. Adda, who’s currently serving as Bocconi Dean for Research, having succeeded Prof. Ottaviani in the office.
“We are in a unique position to answer these questions by leveraging access to a detailed data set containing the evaluation scores awarded to all grant applications received by the Research Council of Norway for a 17-year period beginning in 2002. Our data covers all academic fields, thus allowing us to investigate how the impact of funding on innovation varies across fields,” explains Prof. Ottaviani.
A first result of the research will be the evaluation of the impact of research grants on outcome variables such as journal publications, patents, and citations. To estimate the causal effect of the grant on outcomes, the researchers will compare applications that are just above or just below the funding threshold. The research methodology exploits a key feature of grant allocation rules that tend to award funding to projects above a cut-off grade and not to those below. Projects immediately above and immediately below the cut-off are broadly identical in all but the fact that the former received funding and the latter did not. For these proposals, the grant award can thus be considered to cause subsequent differences in patenting.
The project will also analyze the way reviews of the scientific merit of applications are conducted and will investigate how improvements in the selection can result in more patented innovation.
by Fabio Todesco