Analysis of the Planning, Selection and Evaluation System of National R&D Projects
Published on 20 October 2020
Published by Economic Industrial Program Evaluation Division of the Budget Analysis Department
The 2021 budget proposal for national R&D projects amounts to 27.2 trillion won, which is 3 trillion won higher than the previous year.
Meanwhile, considering the continuously expanding budget for national R&D projects, some are pointing out the lack of creative and innovative R&D achievements. Also, compared to the importance of innovation in R&D project planning to make the shift toward a leading R&D system, reviewing and analyzing problems in the overall R&D project planning process are lacking.
Therefore, this report provides a summary of the overall status of the project planning system for national R&D projects, reviews key issues and problems regarding R&D project planning, and offers effective improvement measures.
First, there was low participation by the private sector in the technology demand survey for specialized research management institutions as well as low level of implementation on a patent trend technology research, while performance was not high in terms of patent registration in Korea and patent transferral rate. In this respect, R&D planning based on market demand should be reinforced by promoting technology demand surveys and patent technology trend research, while encouraging private sector experts to participate in research project management.
Second, there seemed to be a lack of expertise and fairness as frequent requests appeared to be directed to certain evaluators registered under specialized research management institutions, and some PMs seemed to be participating in multiple national R&D projects. Therefore, the expertise and fairness of the R&D project evaluation process should be reinforced, and specialized research management institutions should develop a shared database of evaluators. Also, selection and evaluation criteria suitable for each type of R&D project must be developed.
Third, the number of new thesis publications, patent applications and technology transfers in government-funded research institutes has been on a declining trend over the past five years, while research productivity is also on the decline. Thus, it is necessary to strengthen the role of the department mainly responsible for R&D planning in the institutions, enhance the private sector’s participation in the R&D planning stage, and increase the proportion of the budget allocated to joint projects conducted by industry, academia and research institutes, so that government-funded research institutes may produce ambitious and creative R&D outcomes.
Fourth, regarding industrial technology R&D, in addition to the delay in the integrating process among specialized research management institutions, there is also a lack of clear criteria for systematically incorporating the results of technology demand surveys when planning new projects. On the other hand, there are functional similarities between the Office of Strategic R&D Planning and the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology. In this respect, a system that links the technology demand surveys on industrial technology with R&D projects needs to be developed, the role of specialized research management institutions should be adjusted and the integrating process must be reformed in a speedy manner.
Fifth, owing to the relatively low R&D planning capacity of SMEs, the rate of commercialization appeared to be lower than the success rate of R&D projects. Therefore, a systematic performance management is necessary to expand projects supporting SMEs’ R&D planning and enable them to successfully move on to the R&D implementation stage.