An additional participatory workshop was held in conjunction with the final event of the MERIL-2 project on 24th June in Lisbon. The discussions focused on topics regarding: 1) commonalities and differences in IA needs between different types and domains of RIs, in particular distinctions between natural science RIs and RIs serving social sciences and humanities; 2) resource needs to carry out IA activities; as well as 3) usage and openness of impact related data.
Research infrastructures boost to industry and economy. In a paper on L'industria, RI-PATHS’ staff Silvia Vignetti and Francesco Giffoni discuss how to estimate the socioeconomic impact of Research Infrastructures and investments in science. They argue that evaluation is essential to justify publicly-funded and costly investments yet challenging. Their critical review of existing methodologies to assess the impact of RIs focuses on the Cost-benefit Analysis (CBA) as one of the analytical frameworks for evaluating welfare changes attributable to RIs. Indeed, the use of shadow prices, along with other techniques (e.g. willingness-to-pay and avoided costs), captures the social opportunity costs of goods and services and allows the evaluation of non-market impacts.
CSIL’s Massimo Florio, Francesco Giffoni, Anna Giunta and Emanuela Sirtori have recently published a study on how public procurement by big research infrastructures enhances suppliers’ performance on Industrial and Corporate Change. Using survey data on 669 CERN’s suppliers, they built a unique data set to analyse the determinants of suppliers’ sales, profits, and development activities. They found out that collaborative relations between CERN and its suppliers improved suppliers’ performance and increased positive spill-overs along the supply chain. This insight suggested that public procurement, as mission-oriented innovation policy, should promote cooperative relations and not only market mechanisms.
For another research, Massimo Florio, Francesco Giffoni and Jessica Catalano interviewed 1,022 undergraduates to study the drivers of preferences for paying for basic research, which are still little known. Moreover, taxpayers are usually the ultimate funders of large-scale research infrastructures, but the expected discoveries of such projects often do not have any known use-value. CSIL’s researchers focused on the LHC at CERN, where the Higgs boson was discovered and found out that income, awareness, and positive attitudes towards science drive a positive willingness-to-pay for science. Social sciences and the humanities’ students resulted willing to contribute to fundamental research at least as much as their peers in science curricula. Findings suggest support to government funding of basic research as a public good. Their article "Should governments fund basic science? Evidence from a willingness-to-pay experiment in five universities” was published by Taylor & Francis Group's Journal of Economic Policy Reform.