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Private investment needed to increase value of research, says report

Recipients of EU funding should consider how private investments could be incorporated in projects to increase the economic value of their research, according to the European Policy Centre (EPC).

In a report to examine how public-private partnerships could be used to tackle the economic crisis in Europe, the Brussels think-tank suggests that EU research projects should be obliged to include impact assessments to determine how private finance might be leveraged.

This evaluation, which should be carried out before starting a project, could also apply to other areas of EU funding such as transport, structural funds and the Connecting Europe Facility, says the EPC.

The EPC gathered information from public and private sector individuals to establish the benefits and drawbacks of public-private partnerships (PPPs), and consider how they should be better implemented under EU programmes.

Whilst the report concludes that PPPs could be a valuable tool to increase the economic benefits of EU funds, it states that successful implementation in areas such as research will require improved support mechanisms. These should include a dedicated EU advice unit and national training schemes, as well as a guidebook from the Commission to describe opportunities for public-private cooperation.

The report also recommends that public-private cooperation should be allocated a dedicated funding pot under the next seven-year EU budget. This would provide the financial basis for PPPs to be implemented across a wider range of policy areas than at present, says the EPC.

The EPC is an independent think-tank whose backers include trade unions and charities, as well as banks and business groups. The report was produced as part of a research project funded by the European Investment Bank.