The long-term effect of innovation vouchers for SMEs on business results

In 2004 and 2005, the then Ministry of Economic Affairs issued innovation vouchers to SMEs to promote cooperation and knowledge exchange between companies and knowledge institutes in the field of innovation. The underlying idea was that more new products, services and/or processes can be developed with more knowledge exchange. This innovation can in turn lead to an increase in turnover and productivity, which ultimately leads to more prosperity. Because the interest in the instrument in 2004 and 2005 exceeded all expectations and the number of applications exceeded the number of available vouchers in one day, the innovation vouchers were awarded by lottery between interested companies.

In this study the short, medium and long term effects of innovation vouchers on R&D, employment, turnover and productivity of both entered and drawn companies were studied.

We can conclude from the results, with the necessary caution regarding exiting companies, that innovation vouchers seem to lead to more participation in WBSO, more R&D and employment, possibly more turnover, but have no measurable statistically significant effect on productivity. The positive effects found usually manifest themselves, especially in the short term, and these effects then remain structurally unchanged in the medium and long term.

Results from this experiment have been summarised in an IGL blog. This research follows an initial paper, published in 2006.