Innovation grants to encourage collaboration between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other parties have little effect. This is the conclusion of researchers from Utrecht University, based on research among over 400 small and medium-sized enterprises. Businesses are looking for other benefits of collaboration, and collaboration with universities is not at all matter-of-course.
Governmental policy for promoting collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) costs a lot of money. The European Eurostars programme costs 1.1 billion euros, and the Dutch Top Sectors Innovation Incentive Scheme for SME (MIT) has a budget of 55 million euros. But is this money well spent?
No drastic increase
Innovation scientist and principal investigator Dr. Frank van Rijnsoever of Utrecht University explains: “It’s great that a lot of money is being spent on innovation, but the existing schemes are mainly attractive to businesses that are already collaborating anyway. So there will be no drastic increase in the number of businesses that collaborate as a result of this type of grants.”
Van Rijnsoever and his colleagues investigated the circumstances under which SME managers are most likely to collaborate. Managers from over 400 different businesses were presented with varying tasks containing descriptions of innovation projects. These projects varied in the form of collaboration, the type of partner, the funding form and a number of other properties. Managers then indicated which projects they were most likely and least likely to undertake.