The European Commission has recently selected the RISIS project, Research infrastructure for research and innovation policy studies, led by a community of researchers from 13 partner institutions across 10 European countries and steered by the University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée. The French team is composed of IFRIS members, from LATTS and INRA SenS. Its coordinator, Philippe Larédo, tells us more about the project.
You recently received funding from the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for a project in the field of research and innovation policies. Can you explain us what this project will be?
First, this project is not a research project in the traditional sense. It is an infrastructure project, that is to say, a project whose goal is to share a set of original databases that were built in the 2000s about new issues that arose in the areas of research and innovation policies.
These databases have two characteristics: first, they are designed from publicly available data, and not from statistical data. This allows to maintain the identity of stakeholders and to follow their strategies over time.
The second aspect of these databases is that they make it possible to answer to current issues. Let us take a few examples: understanding the dynamics of innovation of fast-growing medium-sized enterprises. We have presently no knowledge about this size of firms which is judged critical for the European economic fabric, we have only knowledge only start-up firms on the one hand, and large companies on the other. Another example, on a completely different issue: we have extended knowledge on European integration through European funding programmes, but there has been a very rapid development of shared funding programmes by national funding agencies and it is important to follow their growing role in the construction of the ERA.
More specifically, what are the issues of the RISIS project?
This project aims on the one hand to gather, consolidate, harmonize and make available to researchers, a total of 14 databases, covering 5 research topics: the dynamics of innovation (globalization of industrial R&D, start-up but also fast-growing medium-sized enterprises), the transformation of universities and of public research organisations, the process of Europeanisation (of researchers, and research funding), the dynamics of emerging science and technologies and the evaluation of research policies. On the other hand, the project will allow researchers to access new data processing tools, including semantic tools, by using two platforms, the IFRIS CorTexT platform being one of them (http://www.cortext.net/).
Why did you choose to propose a project on these issues?
It is more complicated than that. At a European level, in this type of infrastructure projects that aim at integrating dispersed facilities, there are two successive levels of decision-making. At the first level, the European Commission and its committees choose the areas in which they consider it interesting to integrate existing national or distributed infrastructures. In 2011, The Commission decided to include our area of research in its thematic programme, and this was a surprise for many of us. We had already built a European Network of Indicators Designers (ENID), because we were convinced that there was a renewal, which needed to be well structured. We thus considered this inscription in the Framework Programme as a unique opportunity to materialize our ambition. So we brought together the competent Community in Europe to build a robust project, it is I believe, what we have done with RISIS.
Is this reflection on indicators at the centre of your current research?
The answer is always the same! From the moment when one is embarked on a major project (this was the case when I led PRIME network of excellence on research and innovation policies), when one coordinates many partners, with significant resources and a program which includes, roughly speaking, a hundred different actions, by definition, it becomes the core element of one’s professional career. RISIS will be the last “large” project of my career!
What is the project schedule?
The project is expected to last for four years, starting from January 1st, 2014, but in these infrastructure projects, this is a theoretical duration. If we are convincing and demonstrate our usefulness, it will probably be extended for an additional four years, but as far as I am concerned, I will hand over at the end of 2017. If we do not sufficiently demonstrate it, the project will probably last five years.
Do you have recommendations or remarks to give to researchers wishing to respond to upcoming European calls for projects?
One should only submit projects for research he or she is willing to do, not for tapping opportunities that arise.
The RISIS project gathers the following research structures, universities and scientific institutions:
Coordinator: Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (France)
Other beneficiaries: AIT (Austrian Institute of Technology), the Italian CNR and the Spanish CSIC, NIFU in Norway, IFQ in Germany, the Nieman institute of Technion (Israel) and the universities of Amsterdam (free university), Leiden, Manchester, Milano (Politecnico), Lugano (USI) and Sussex (SPRU).
Philippe Larédo in focus
Director of research at Ecole des Ponts (Laboratory Technology, Territories and Societies, LATTS) and Professor at the University of Manchester (Manchester Business School, Institute of innovation research), Philippe Larédo is a graduate of HEC and Doctor in economics from EHESS. His research interests are in breakthrough innovation and the construction of markets, research and innovation policies and evolving organisational features of public sector research. Philippe Larédo has coordinated PRIME European network of excellence (Policies for Research and Innovation in the Move towards the ERA) from 2004 to 2009.