What have we learned?

We are excited to share the main conclusions of the INNOSUP-06-2018 programme in these two reports, bringing together analysis and key findings from thirteen projects chosen to apply experimental approaches to innovation policy.

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) are a powerful way to determine whether an intervention causes the expected outcomes. As part of a broader experimental approach, RCTs can help innovation agencies to explore new ideas, optimise actions and find out what works. RCTs are, however, rarely used. 

Within the Horizon 2020 Work Programme (INNOSUP-06-2018), the European Commission launched a call to directly incentivise innovation agencies to engage in policy experimentation and use RCTs to evaluate their schemes. 

The selected projects include feasibility studies of new support, such as training to encourage SMEs to adopt new innovative methods and technologies. Others seek to optimise programme delivery, for instance, how best to offer SMEs feedback on their grant applications.

In the first report (covering the period until September 2021), results from the first three completed projects are presented alongside lessons learnt by all agencies during experiment design and implementation. Recommendations and tools are also provided for innovation agencies wishing to follow the approaches of the experimental pioneers and undertake their own experiments.

In the second and updated report (covering the period until October 2022), we provide a comprehensive analysis of the consolidated findings covering the thirteen experiments in INNOSUP-06-2018. We bring together the key findings from the projects and from the experiences of all participants as they designed and implemented their experiments. We look at the rationale for encouraging innovation agencies to run experiments, discuss the experience of learning from them and study the main elements for consideration by innovation agencies who wish to take up or replicate findings.


This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme under Work Programme 2018-2020 Action 7. Innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises: Support to design and running of randomized control trials under INNOSUP-06-2018. The information and views set out in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of EISMEA or of the European Commission. Neither EISMEA, nor the European Commission can guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this study. Neither EISMEA, nor the European Commission or any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.