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Contribution of RTD to Developing Sustainable Knowledge-Based Economies in Central and South East Europe, 22-23 May 2009, Dubrovnik. Governance and Benchmarking of RTOs Manfred Spiesberger Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Austria. Comparative Study of Governance Models of RTOs.

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Contribution of RTD to Developing Sustainable Knowledge-Based Economies in Central and South East Europe,

22-23 May 2009, Dubrovnik

Governance and Benchmarking of RTOs

Manfred Spiesberger

Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Austria


Comparative Study of Governance Models of RTOs

  • Study of Governance Models: comparative analysis of 8 RTOs commissioned by Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)
  • Project Consortium:- Society for Research (GFF)- Austrian Research Centers (ARC)- Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI)
  • Time frame of study implementation: spring-autumn 2008; approved by Ministry in February 2009
  • Methodological approach:- document study/desk research, - interviews with representatives of supervising authorities/decision makers/funding bodies & with representatives of RTOs, - analysis and compilation of study in ppp format

Scope of Analysis

  • Corporate & Public Governance of RTOs
  • Legal status, supervisory authorities/decision makers & ownership, supervisory bodies (e.g. boards), legal status
  • Management, controlling, planning, evaluation; internal and external decision making processes
  • Role of RTO in respective National Innovation System (NIS): links to other actors – universities, business, commercialisation and spin-off strategies
  • Activity fields of RTOs
  • Funding profiles of RTOs: basic versus competitive funding

Sample of national Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs)

Criteria for choosing the RTOs:

  • Relevance of RTO in national context
  • Interaction with public decision makers
  • Identification of Good-Practice-Models for improving of performance
  • Comparability with previous studies



Main features of RTOs (I)

1) § = established on the basis of a specific law

2) e.g. Ministry, etc.

3) M = Management involved in University

RCN Research Council of Norway

BMBF Federal Ministry for Education and Research

MBKW Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

TEM Ministry of Employment and the Economy

BMVIT Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology

MEST Ministry of Higher Education, Science and TechnologyETH ETH Board (for ETH Domain)


Main features of RTOs (II)

1) Operational as of January 2009; 2) Growth ofver past 5 years;3) 2006; 4) currently because of legal limitations not possible; 5) for respective reference year


Thematic fields1) of RTOs

1) Activities compiled into broad fields


Income profiles of RTOs 2007 (I) – indicative percentages

1) FhG: federal/regional and EU income2) FhG: national + international

3) TNO: 16,6 % public contracts + EU funding4) VTT: incl. 14 % international5) ARC: national + international contracts + 8,7 % other income

6) SINTEF: Other income calculated to programme income 7) SINTEF: national contracts de facto around 50% programme income

8) IJS: including 27 % public contracts9) PSI: Incl. other income10) KIT: federal/regional partly programme funding


External decision making structures

Competences of Boards overlap. But qualitatively, the influence and relevance of boards differs importantly. Besides boards, owners, national R&D funding bodies, etc. have influence.


Main results of study I

  • Policy making: RTOs are important actors in their respective National Innovation System (NIS) as well as in the European Research Area (ERA); RTOs are used as instruments for R&D policy making and R&D policy implementation.
  • Legal Status: different forms exist; most RTOs are Public Research Organisations, but also association, foundation or company.
  • Interaction RTO-decision maker/supervising authority: different patterns can be met from rather independent to more dependent on supervising authority.E.g.:More independent for SINTEF (foundation, RCN renounced on seat in SINTEF board) and PSI (clear regulation via performance agreement, ETH board as buffer towards federal authorities). Less independent: ARC and IJS, more important influence of policy makers in boards; are also stronger in number in boards; for IJS majority has been moved to ministries in board.
  • Performance agreements gain more and more importance; they are used for clarifying the scope of activities of the RTO between the RTO and the decision makers/supervising authority.

Main results of study II

  • Evaluations: important feature for all RTOs; some kind of evaluation is undertaken in every RTO. Different forms exist: self evaluation, internal & external evaluations, reporting, audits, controlling, etc.For some RTOs, the board is more implicated in evaluation (e.g. SINTEF – board meets at institutes and the heads of institute report to board)
  • Funding: basic grants/basic funding/block funding is on average 30%. Relatively low for SINTEF; relatively high for PSI – but this is an important research infrastructure, funds are allocated to little extent based on performance – funding allocation based on performance within ETH domain; multi-annual budget planning (4 year planning cycles) provide planning security. Balance basic- versus competitive funding: in NO trend to increase basic funding, in SI trend to increase competitive funding allocation via calls for project proposals.
  • Strategy of RTOs is influenced by decision maker/supervising authority via basic funding or programme funding respectively.
  • Links to universities: some kind of links to universities exist for all RTO‘s (personnel, joint labs, etc.), but important differences in relevance. Good practice SINTEF – innovation chain university-RTO-business, same campus with university, university representatives in board, personnel exchange, joint laboratories; IJS co-founded University of Nova Gorica. Links facilitate personnel recruiting, acquiring of know-how, etc.

Main results of study III

  • Links to business/commercialisation: is a hot topic for most RTOs and is approached more and more strategically. E.g. via contract research, via establishing of commercialisation holdings (e.g. SINTEF Holding), via establishing of Technology Transfer Offices (e.g. PSI); shareholding in Technology Park (IJS)Spin-off strategies: systematic and strategic approach in several RTOs (e.g. SINTEF, PSI, IJS)
  • Balance basic versus applied research/technology development is an important point; basic research oriented RTOs such as IJS or PSI move towards applied, while applied oriented such as SINTEF move more towards basic research.
  • Public policy advice is performed by and relevant for several RTOs, e.g. for specific technologies (environment, testing, etc.) or via specialized social science units (e.g. ARC, VTT).
  • Regionalisation has to be seen in context of federal structures of the respective country, or with getting closer to customers, etc. Is important e.g. for FhG, TNO und VTT.
  • Internationalisation is for all RTOs an important topic, especially regarding participation in the EU Framework Programme for RTD. For some RTOs it is also relevant in an expansionary and growth sense, via establishing offices or institutes abroad (e.g: SINTEF, FhG)