Cover of EconPol policy report 20

Supporting Firm Innovation and R&D: What is the Optimal Policy Mix?

İrem Güçeri (EconPol Europe, Oxford University), Marko Köthenbürger (EconPol Europe, ETH Zurich), Martin Simmler (EconPol Europe, Oxford University)

Existing literature suggests that firm R&D support policies stimulate private R&D within a country and that in most cases, the positive impact of government support is stronger on smaller firms. Recent evidence also indicates that some of the policy instruments, such as patent box policies, are tools that multinationals use to lower their total tax bill through profit shifting. In this policy report, İrem Güçeri (EconPol Europe, Oxford University), Marko Köthenbürger (EconPol Europe, ETH Zurich) and Martin Simmler (EconPol Europe, Oxford University) find that the most prevalent support policies are effective in fostering private enterprise sector R&D and small and young firms seem to benefit the most from both public R&D and R&D tax incentives.

Abstract

This policy report provides an overview of firm R&D support policies used by European countries, reviews the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these policies, and discusses implications for policy. Existing literature suggests that firm R&D support policies stimulate private R&D within a country and that in most cases, the positive impact of government support is stronger on smaller firms. Recent evidence also indicates that some of the policy instruments, such as patent box policies, are tools that multinationals use to lower their total tax bill through profit shifting. Despite the data issues that limit the ability to quantify the impact of tax incentives on global R&D, these recent findings together suggest that R&D support policies indeed promote national R&D activities. But governments also use some of these tax instruments to compete for R&D and mobile tax bases, which makes them less cost-effective in stimulating aggregate private sector R&D.

Citation

İrem Güçeri, Marko Köthenbürger, Martin Simmler: Supporting Firm Innovation and R&D: What is the Optimal Policy Mix?, EconPol Europe Policy Report 20, March 2020