Prioritisation processes for public research and innovation in the energy area
– An international survey
The present report summarises the extensive material from studies of a number of different countries’ processes for prioritising research and innovation efforts in the energy area. What our analysis reveals is that both fundamental considerations and practical approach vary widely.
South Korea, Switzerland and to some degree also Canada are examples of countries that have an established process for drawing up energy research and innovation (R&I) programmes, where clear, transparent routines have been put in place and the decisions that are made can in principle be traced to objective bases and considerations. Canada has come a long way as regards broad public support, for example through open communication channels on the Internet. Informal influence may of course play a part but this can be assumed to have somewhat less impact than in those countries where the processes are not as well developed, for example Japan, Denmark, Great Britain and to some degree the USA. In these countries, the prioritisation processes are more random and in particular with regard to overall focus and direction there is great scope for informal influence via informal channels.
A few general observations are:
- Trade and industry and academia are well represented in consultation processes in all countries, both as regards defining challenges and problems and proposing concrete measures and projects to meet these challenges.
- In several of the countries, prioritisations are largely made by officials at government ministries and agencies/authorities. The analysis of Germany describes for example how about a hundred officials with extensive “silent knowledge” and extensive networks consult each other and sometimes disagree on where the money should be invested. The informal contacts that these officials and other players have, is a central element of the prioritisation processes. This is also largely true of Japan.
- Most of the countries have made broad analyses of what the future will look like for both the energy area and the development of society in general. In Finland, both Tekes and the Academy of Finland work systematically with analyses of the future as their starting point. Germany made broad analyses of energy trends up to 2050 in preparation for the country’s sixth energy research programme. This is also an important basis for prioritising in energy R&I in the USA, Japan, Canada and South Korea.
- One shortcoming that most countries suffer from is a lack of distinct processes for evaluation and learning. Naturally, learning takes place at the level of the individual, and to a certain extent at player level, but regarding the Research and Innovation system as a whole few countries systematically transfers experiences from earlier efforts to design a policy for the future.