The study of business participation and entrepreneurship in Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (FP7 and Horizon2020)
The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth recognised Europe’s relatively low economic growth as stemming from its low level of investment in R&D and innovation, insufficient application of recent technologies in business, and the general reluctance among some parts of the society to embrace innovation. In response, EU leaders have called for greater cooperation between business and academia in research and innovation, and identified entrepreneurship as one of the key preconditions for success. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) are a central programme in this context, providing fellowships for researchers at all stages of their careers, from doctoral candidates to highly experienced researchers. MSCA encourages transnational, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary mobility. It also enables research-focused organisations to host talented foreign researchers, and to create strategic partnerships with leading institutions worldwide. However, a lack of information existed on patterns of business participation and their underlying motivations, as well as the barriers to companies, large and small, participating in MSCA. It was also important to explore the impact of MSCA on innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation and collaboration between business and academia.
In collaboration with others, PPMI implemented a large-scale case study programme (50 in-depth case studies of MSCA projects involving businesses and cross-case analysis); 304 interviews with EU and national-level stakeholders, business participants in the MSCA and representatives of unsuccessful business applicants; statistical analysis of the monitoring data; as well as surveys of MSCA fellows and participating organisations. To discuss the preliminary findings and to scrutinise study conclusions and recommendations, the research team organised a stakeholder validation seminar, which gathered more than 60 persons representing top businesses, academia, national authorities and key NGOs. Among the participants were representatives from companies such as Unilever, L’Oréal, JP Morgan, Continental, Siemens and many others.
Policy recommendations stemming from the study have provided guidance for the European Commission on how to widen business participation and how best to support entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship within the MSCA programme, as well as how to increase the quality and effectiveness of business participation with a view to boosting the programme’s impact on jobs and growth. The study revealed many positive impacts of business participation in the MSCA on the careers of fellows, and upon the participating organisations, as well as on the overall EU R&I ecosystem. The study concluded that further improvements are necessary to better integrate entrepreneurship training into MSCA and achieve the desired impacts.