Assessing the effects of a deliberate policy mix: The case of technology and innovation advisory services and innovation vouchers

Working paper 5/2022 di A. Caloffi, M. Freo, S. Ghinoi, M. Mariani, F. Rossi

While innovation policy mixes combining several policy instruments have been advocated as a response to complex problems, there is very little evidence of their effectiveness compared to that of individual instruments. By considering a set of Italian regional policy programmes implemented in 2011-2014, we analysed a policy mix composed of: (i) technology and innovation advisory services, the aim of which is to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to gain a better awareness of their innovation needs and of how to address them; and (ii) innovation vouchers, which are used to subsidise SME purchases of knowledge-intensive services. To draw causal inferences on their differential effectiveness, we adopted a propensity-score-matching approach extended to multiple treatment levels.

We found that advisory services are more effective than innovation vouchers and as effective as policy mixes in increasing SME propensity to innovate and engage in R&D collaborations. Conversely, policy mixes are more effective than each individual instrument in increasing productivity. Hence, merely providing SMEs with technology and innovation advice is not sufficient to elicit productivity improvements; SMEs also need to act on such advice by working with external providers of knowledge-intensive services in order to implement efficiency-producing changes.