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RIS3 - Focus on results

Written by Hans-Christian Jäger

Reviewed by Martina Ebner


The concept

How to implement it?

Step in the RIS process

What can be expected?

A quote


Practitioner's comment


The concept

With implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy the European Commission and all Member States are aiming at delivering smart growth in the area of innovation as one out of 5 goals. [1] To monitor and advance national implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, Member States were invited to set their own targets and to spell out detailed actions as part of their national reform programmes. These programmes are reviewed annually at EU level as part of the European Semester of economic policy coordination. [2]

The stronger focus on results put the emphasis on the real impact of the strategy programmes rather than focus on their input. Therefore, intended results have already to be fixed ex-ante for each programme as inherent part of the programme design. Every result indicator reflects an objective of the overall programme or of a single related measure (what should be achieved) and measures the achievements as quantitative or qualitative information. The target of the result indicator is the planned value, the baseline is the value before intervention of the programme/measure has started.

Monitoring deals with data gathering for the defined indicators in order to verify whether the resources as spend correctly on the policy instruments (input) and on the delivery of the planned outputs as well as whether the actual result indicators are evolving in the intended direction.

Evaluation is assessing the impact = contribution of the intervention to the result indicators. This requires the understanding why and how the impact on the result is being achieved. Success factors as well as barriers can be identified with this approach. [3] [4]


How to implement it?

With a level of 2.06% for combined public and private investment in R&D in 2012, and limited progress over time, the 3% headline target for 2020 is unlikely to be met for the European Union. Investment in R&D is forecast to increase to 2.2% by 2020. If Member States meet their national targets, this share could amount to 2.6%. What are the root causes for this huge gap between the envisaged 3% R&D target figure and reality of R&D and innovation activities in the European Union? One reason is for sure the financial and economic crisis of recent years. Furthermore the R&D headline indicator is too limiting and not sufficient meaningful for the wide-ranging bandwidth of innovation. Therefore the European Commission has proposed in September 2013 a new indicator for innovation composed of 4 components. [5] In fact, the proper selection of meaningful indicators for the defined objectives is a very important success factor for an effective monitoring and evaluation of results.

Further barriers for focus on results have been revealed by several European projects with active participation of the author in the recent years. [6] Here are some main findings:

  • Even though the European Commission is fostering the awareness of the responsible programme authorities for the importance of the results of their programmes the “result orientation” is often less pronounced than the “input orientation” because the focus on input was usually dominating over the last decades and the result orientation requires more effort in monitoring and evaluation.
  • Sometimes the responsibility for the management of regional innovation policy instruments, the budget responsibility and/or the monitoring/evaluation responsibility is split among several institutions which can and do lead to delays in information exchange or even to information gaps in case of weak cooperation among these organisations or different opinions.
  • Companies are often not used to contribute to monitoring/evaluation activities by providing information about the results of the funded projects. Often there is no obligation for the beneficiary to participate in such activities and to give response. However, even in case of an obligation, it turns out that companies are poorly participating or providing low quality data. Those regional administrations with better relationship to their regional entrepreneurs seem to receive better quantitative and qualitative data from beneficiaries.

Thus, it is of utmost importance to improve the monitoring/evaluation culture among the responsible politicians and managers of regional innovation policy instruments. The best and most pragmatic way is by “doing and learning” and by convincing with facts. Often the proposed monitoring/evaluation methodologies are too complex and sophisticated with the consequence that the responsible authorities and intermediate organisation are not able to apply them even if they want to. This should also be taken into consideration for the European Commission’s activities on State Aid Modernisation.


Step in the RIS process

RIS3 – Focus on Results is in particular required for step 6:  Integration of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (Smart Specialisation as continuous process)


What can be expected?

  • More effective and efficient innovation policy instruments with increased knowledge about success factors based on the monitoring/evaluation of results;
  • Higher competitiveness of the beneficiaries of regional innovation policy;
  • Higher satisfaction of the beneficiaries with regional innovation policy and related state aid schemes;
  • Improved relationships among regional authorities responsible for innovation policy and beneficiaries of the regional innovation policy.


A quote

“Europe 2020 is the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. Concretely, the Union has set five ambitious objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy - to be reached by 2020. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy.” by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission




Practitioner’s comment (by Martina Ebner, Regional Government of Lower Austria, Department for Economic Policy, Tourism and Technology)

Monitoring and Evaluation of the results of the state aid schemes and innovation policy programmes is inherent part of Lower Austria’s innovation policy for smart specialisation for more than 15 years.

These monitoring and evaluation activities are carried out in close collaboration with our regional companies as beneficiaries, with our intermediaries and with support by external experts. The findings of our impact assessment activities are directly feeding continuous improvement measures for Lower Austria’s innovation policy. At the same time the findings and the deducted improvement measures are being promptly disseminated among the participating companies which is leading to a confidential relationship between government and companies as well as to a high response rate of Lower Austrian companies in these monitoring activities.


Mr Hans-Christian Jäger

Since almost 20 years Hans-Christian Jäger is working as IDEUM for public authorities and intermediate organisations in the field of regional innovation systems and entrepreneurship as well as management of related interregional projects including transfer and improvement of policy instruments. Hans-Christian has particular interest in monitoring and impact measurement of regional innovation policies and its related instruments which is strongly interlinked with Regional Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation.

In addition and in cooperation with other business consultancy companies like conmotion Hans-Christian is consulting the private sector in the field of lean management, process re-engineering and KAIZEN since almost 25 years.

These complementary activities allow an integrated consulting approach bearing in mind both private sector and public sector as beneficiaries.


[1]  European Commission. Europe 2020. http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm

[2]  European Commission. Taking stock of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. March 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/europe2020stocktaking_en.zip

[3]  European Union DG Regional Policy. Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS 3). March 2012. http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/de/s3pguide

[4]  Anna Burylo, Evaluation Unit, DG for Regional Policy, European Commission. European Territorial Cooperation Strategic Approach 2013+.

[5]  European Commission. New indicator of innovation output. Memo September 2013. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-782_en.htm

[6]  Regional Government of Lower Austria, IDEUM, Economica. OSAIS – Observatory on State Aid Impact, Analysis results Impact of State Aid Schemes on regional companies. February 2013. http://osais.opolskie.pl/page/file.php?id=651