The development of R&D systems in most countries has put pressure on research funding which has led governments and research funding bodies to seek increased efficiency in the use of funds. Furthermore, research funding mechanisms increasingly need to accommodate multiple strategic objectives (respond to societal changes, facilitate economic growth…) beside the traditional demand for scientific excellence, which makes funding processes more challenging.
The Global Science Forum (GSF) has initiated a series of activities related to research funding with the aim to increase research funding mechanism efficiency and adapt funding strategies to different objectives.
The OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2021 has been released. This reviews the most important trends in science, technology and innovation policy across OECD countries and several major partner economies. This year’s Outlook provides new insights into the critical role that research and innovation systems have played in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, from improving our understanding of the disease to the rapid development of vaccines. Drawing on new data across a range of science and innovation policy areas, the report also sheds light on the challenges that innovation systems face amid the current economic crises, and what governments can do to improve their resilience and preparedness for future crises.
Chapter 2 focuses particularly on public research funding during the crisis, and many data were provided by members of the GSF expert group on high Risk/High Reward research.
Emergency research funding initiatives related to the covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented mobilisation of the scientific community at the request of national and international authorities. This response includes the development of a large number of new research initiatives: Public research agencies and organisations, private foundations and charities and the health industry have set up a vast array of newly funded research projects in a record time, most often at the request of decision makers, to respond to the crisis. These initiatives encompass all dimensions of the pandemic but have to be developed in a timeframe and context that are challenging for the research funding system.
Research funding initiatives launched by research funding and research performing organisations can be regrouped in several main categories:
The OECD is gathering and updating information on these funding initiatives (country of origin, agency/organisation in charge, topic/targeted area of research, status of the project, level of funding, link to the scheme…). These information are currently available as an Excel table at the following link:
Important note: The majority of the information presented in this data file originates from public sources but has not been validated by the relevant funding organisation.
The OECD STP team is currently working on a solution to make these information accessible and searchable with a more user-friendly environment.
Other organisation are also collecting information research funding scheme at national or international level, the html links to some of those are shown below:
Research results on the Covid-19 are widely shared, the WHO is maintaining a global database of publications and reports on Covid-19 research (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov).
Research funders that are setting up emergency research funding schemes face a series of specific challenges which need to be addressed:
The OECD Global Science Forum is investigating how these challenges are being addressed and will disseminate good practices in the course of its current activity on High-Risk/High-Reward research.