Knowledge to money: Assessing the business performance effects of publicly-funded R&D grants

Enrico Vanino, Stephen Roper, Bettina Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UK Research Councils (UKRCs) spend around £3bn pa supporting R&D and innovation. We provide a comprehensive assessment of these grants on the performance of participating UK firms, using data on all projects funded by UKRCs over the 2004–2016 period and applying a propensity score matching approach. We exploit the richness of the data available in the Gateway to Research database by investigating the heterogeneous effect of these projects across several novel directions which have not been explored before. We find a positive effect on the employment and turnover growth of participating firms, both in the short and in the medium term. Exploring impacts across different types of firms we find stronger performance impacts for firms in R&D intensive industries and for smaller and less productive firms. We also consider how impacts vary depending on the characteristics of the funded research projects in terms of partners characteristics, receipt of other research grants and grant value. Finally, we focus on the different sources of grants, analysing in particular the evolution in the funding strategy of Innovate UK. Our results have implications for the extent and targeting of future Research Council funding both in the UK and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1714-1737
Number of pages24
JournalResearch policy
Issue number7
Early online date10 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Funding: This work has been supported by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), ESRC grant ES/K006614/1.


  • Innovation
  • Public support
  • R&D
  • Research Council
  • UK


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