Innovation intermediaries and performance-based incentives: a case study of regional innovation poles

Margherita Russo, Annalisa Caloffi*, Federica Rossi, Riccardo Righi
Center for the Analysis of Public Policies (CAPP), University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Science and Public Policy,  scy028, https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scy028

*Corresponding author. Email: annalisa.caloffi@unifi.it
Published: 16 March 2018
Abstract
A growing number of innovation policies rely on publicly-funded innovation intermediaries to provide knowledge-intensive services to firms, particularly small- and medium-sized ones. The performance of innovation intermediaries is often assessed using indicators that need to be closely aligned with policy objectives to be effective. However, this alignment is difficult to achieve and is often overlooked in practice. We analyse the relationship between performance indicators and the behaviour of intermediaries by examining a case study of innovation intermediaries funded with public resources in Tuscany, Italy. The intermediaries implemented actions that allowed them to achieve their performance targets rapidly. However, due to a misalignment between indicators and policy objectives, these actions were not entirely consistent with the latter. After reviewing the literature on this key issue, we build on our findings to suggest how to design performance indicators that can induce intermediaries to more effectively support the achievement of policy objectives.