Ensuring the involvement of the target group in policy programmes

Why is this a policy challenge?

The target group of inclusive innovation policies (e.g. minority groups, less innovative SMEs, firms in traditional sectors) might in some cases not be aware of, be misinformed about or be unwilling to engage in the programmes for which they could be eligible. Linguistic barriers and low access to conventional media by the target group, among other factors, might hamper the effectiveness of communication and dissemination measures built around the programme. For example, implementation of the Prototypes of Social Innovation programme in Chile was initially hindered by the misunderstanding of the notion of “social innovation” among the target groups, which led to low levels of participation in workshops aimed at identifying major social challenges at the local level.

Often the target groups of inclusive innovation policies might also have had little previous contact with governmental programmes, or feel an aversion to the prospect of long bureaucratic application processes. As a result, they might not trust governmental intervention or might not perceive the potential benefits from it, leading to low levels of engagement to the programme and/or resistance to its implementation. This is different from innovation policies that target the strongest performers; those often have long-standing relationships with governmental agencies and consequently will be much more ready to engage. For example:

  • In the context of the Ideas for Change programme in Colombia, some communities in more remote areas were initially reluctant to have the government and the research community provide solutions to their needs, due to the lack of trust.
  • During the implementation of the Kiút programme in Hungary, convincing the target group (mostly low-income individuals from the Roma minority with no experience in dealing with bureaucratic procedures) to apply to the programme became an important implementation challenge. This partly explains the fact that, from the original aim of 400 recipients, only 138 finally received microloans.
  • During the implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility Programme in Lithuania, the bank in charge of providing loans to (mainly female) micro-entrepreneurs had difficulties allocatingthe funding due to lack of demand (in part due to expensive rates on products): from EUR 5 million available, only EUR 1.91 million were committed.
How can these challenges be addressed?
  • In the framework of a programme, design an outreach strategy that is tailored to the target group. This might include using the media channels that are most widely used among the members of the target group, general awareness raising campaigns and role models. See examples.
  • Engage the target group in the design and/or implementation of the programme. See examples.
  • Communicate the objectives, activities and benefits of the programme to the target group through a member of the same community or group (e.g. a supportive community leader, a member of a traditional industry association), or someone who has previously benefited from the programme. Role models (e.g. successful women entrepreneurs or researchers) can also play a key role in encouraging potential benefitiaries to engage in programmes. See examples.
  • Promote interaction among the target group, the STI community and government actors.  This includes the creation of online platforms where different actors in a community can interact to identify local challenges and possible solutions. See examples.
  • Provide information about the benefits of science and technology, research and innovation. See examples.
  • Streamline and simplify administrative processes linked to the programme, so that target groups are not discouraged to apply as a result of complex bureaucratic procedures. See examples.

Thuthuka programme – South Africa

2001-present

Measure implemented: Design an outreach strategy that is tailored to the target group 

marketing campaign targeting black researchers was designed for the most recent rounds of the Thuthuka programme in South Africa (which aims to award grants to researchers from historically disadvantaged groups), since it had previously failed to attract the preset target number of black applicants. The new marketing campaign, implemented prior to the start of new calls for proposals, identifies the institutions where potential candidates reside and tries to attract them with a communication mix consisting of direct communication (including via social media) with carefully targeted potential applicants, and face-to-face communication. Assistance during the application process is also offered to further promote participation, including support in research proposal writing, budget elaboration and research project management (NRF, 2014).

EuroAgri Foodchain – Eureka Countries

2014-2018

Measure implemented: Design an outreach strategy that is tailored to the target group 

Information days were organised and consultation services were offered to properly present the programme and reflect on doubts and comments of potential participants.

 

Prototypes for Social Innovation – Chile

2012-2014

Measure implemented: Engage the target group in the design and implementation of the programme

The programme identifies local challenges through a process of co-ordination and collaboration among all regional actors; the process includes interviews and meetings with different social groups (including owners of small businesses, government employees, students, workers and social activists). A call for innovative solutions to those challenges is then issued on an online open innovation platform, where solutions can be publicly discussed and then submitted to the “Prototypes of Social Innovation” solution competition.

Productive Territories Programme – Mexico

Pilot phase

Measure implemented: Engage the target group in the design and implementation of the programme

The programme aims to reduce poverty through tailor-made development plans for poor rural communities. Technical expert teams elaborate and validate these plans in collaboration with the local communities, which ensures that the specific needs of the targeted community and the actual financial and technical opportunities are adequately identified. The plans count on local support for their implementation.

Encouraging R&D in traditional industries – Israel

2005-present

Measure implemented: Communicate the objectives and expected benefits of the programme to the target group by somebody from the same community/social group 

The programme relied on the close collaboration with the Manufacturers Association of Israel (MAI), the representative body of all industrial sectors, to reach out to targeted firms and increase their engagement in the programme.

Measure implemented: Provide information about the benefits of S&T, research and innovation

The programme provides traditional industry managers with training about the relevance and benefits of R&D processes (75% of which was funded by the government).

Measure implemented: Streamline and simplify administrative processes linked to the programme

To ensure targeted groups do not feel discouraged from applying to the programme as a result of complex bureaucratic procedures, the time allowed for authorities to provide official responses to applications was shortened from 4.5 months to 10 weeks from submission of the request.

Support programme for companies from minority communities– Israel

2014-present

Measure implemented: Communicate the objectives and expected benefits of the programme to the target group by somebody from the same community/social group 

The Support Programme for Companies from Minority Communities in Israel relied on close collaboration with vibrant civil society organisations to reach potential entrepreneurs from minority groups, including through the organisation of workshops and orientation days.

Programme to support the research activities of female researchers – Japan

2006-present

Measure implemented: Communicate the objectives and expected benefits of the programme to the target group by somebody from the same community/social group 

The Programme to Support Research Activities of Female Researchers in Japan aims at increasing the number of women in research, organising meetings between female senior staff in research positions and high school and college female students.

Kiút programme – Hungary

2010-12

Measure implemented: Communicate the objectives and expected benefits of the programme to the target group by somebody from the same community/social group 

To tackle mistrust against central government projects among the Roma population, the Kiút programme in Hungary employed social workers and other experts who informed the local stakeholders of the most important details of the project in their own environment.

Ideas for Change – Colombia

2012-2014

Measure implemented: Promote the interaction between the target group and the STI community and government actors

The Ideas for Change programme in Colombia invited vulnerable communities to identify specific needs that are affecting their quality of life through a virtual platform. Their challenges are passed on to the STI community (including universities, research groups and technological development centres), who through the same virtual platform propose different solutions that are creative and adaptable to low-cost technologies. Solutions are then selected in regional committees in which the communities with prioritised problems participate. This participatory and collaborative process fosters an atmosphere of trust, and ensures that implemented STI solutions have been accepted by all parties.

National Action Plan for Scientific Literacy – China

2012-2014

Measure implemented: Provide information about the benefits of S&T, research and innovation

The National Plan for Scientific Literacy in China aims to strengthen S&T primary education and raise awareness about their benefits in people’s lives.

Other examples

Measure implemented: Design an outreach strategy that is tailored to the target group

The Awareness of the Right to Identity project, implemented in Bolivia by the United Kingdom and Sweden, aimed at mitigating social exclusion of indigenous communities that do not own any documents of identification and therefore are hindered in their rights to access basic services. An efficient communication mix was used in the framework of the project to promote improved political and citizen participation of excluded indigenous people. It comprised mass media campaigns (both in Spanish and indigenous language); advocacy aimed at Congress and key decision makers; local fairs and expositions; forums for consultation and debate; and locally trained peer facilitators working in schools, peasant unions and women’s organisations (OECD, 2012c).