Unique data

What is R&T Telescope?

R&T Telescope™ is a unique observatory and a tool which is used to support industries, enterprises, governments, research centres and the academia in understanding emerging technology trends, selecting investment priorities and finding partners. R&T Telescope™ provides information on key research and technology trends, based on the RED © database. This database currently contains information on approximately 15,000 industrial research projects (financed by the 7° and the 8° Framework Programmes for research and innovation, namely FP7 and Horizon 2020). In total these projects obtained EUR 45 billion of EU funds while their total costs exceed EUR 70 billion.

The information on each project is extracted from CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service). CORDIS raw data are analysed in-depth by the team and enriched with original information on relevant research areas and key technologies developed by participating organisations (e.g. enterprises, universities, research and technology organisations). Data on research areas, key technologies and individual organisations are available at various level of geographical detail (NUTS 1, NUTS 2 and NUTS 3).

Sources of information

The data that feed into our database are extracted from CORDIS as well as from numerous additional sources such as the project website, the Internet pages of participant organisations, the scientific publications produced in the course of the project etc. The work undertaken by our team to enrich CORDIS data is complex: data from multiple sources are gathered and recombined; then, information on research areas, key technologies and geographical location is added.

Example of CORDIS project page from which raw data are extracted CORDIS

A brief history

The idea behind our database was born when we conducted a technological assessment of the industrial research labs financed by the Emilia-Romagna Regional Administration, in Northern Italy. The public investments were co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and operate in various scientific and technological fields. In order to assess the competitiveness of these laboratories and of their R&D operations we needed a global benchmark. Hence the idea to use data from European Framework Programmes for research and innovation as a proxy of excellence in research and technology development. In a sense, with this intuition we have anticipated the policy changes implemented in the 2014-2020 programming period, in which the Smart Specialization Strategies (RIS3) have been introduced to ensure that investments supported by EU Funds are focused on selected priorities, on developing enabling technologies or their applications, in order to boost local strengths.

The development of the database started in 2010 and its updating is carried out continuously by Ismeri Europa, a research and consulting institute based in Rome. The database contains detailed information on the investments for each organization involved in European R&D projects, as well as information on the sector of application, on research areas and technologies. 

What are the innovative features of our data?

R&T Telescope™ is unique because it offers information that no other existing database is able to provide. There are numerous websites that collect and process CORDIS data. However, only our tool offers the following features. R&T Telescope™ provides an original taxonomy of key technologies emerging from European R&D projects which can be used to classify any industrial research project in a consistent way. Our taxonomy was defined and validated on the basis of: an analysis of the research agenda of the European Technology Platforms; an assessment of international technological experts; focus groups with innovative companies and public research organisations. The taxonomy has been used in several scientific articles published in peer reviewed journals (see bibliography below).

CORDIS does not provide a classification of projects by key technology but only organises information by call. Each call does not identify a research area but only a general theme and, often, a project financed within a certain call (e.g. ICT) may be actually developing technological solutions relevant for one or more sectors of application, not necessarily directly related to the call’s thematic focus (e.g. health, agri-food, transport etc.). Therefore, raw data extracted from CORDIS need to be analysed carefully and reclassified one by one in order to be able to understand their contents in detail and dig out useful information.

As in the case of NACE (Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community), the structure of our taxonomy is hierarchical (see the following figure). In our 3-digit classification we have information on industries, research areas and key technologies. There are 10 sectors, covering the bulk of the European industry. Each sector is divided into research areas (60 research areas in total) and each research area is further split into key technology groups (160 key technologies in total). The 10 industries covered by R&T Telescope™ are: advanced manufacturing/industry 4.0, aerospace, agri-food, construction, energy, environment, ICT and telecommunication, health, security, transport.

Our 3-digit classification: an example 3-digit classification

Data are regionalised up to NUTS3 level of detail, without headquarter effects. This means that we know exactly where a certain R&D project was carried out and by whom. In other words, we have information on the organisations that are working on certain research areas and on specific technologies and on where they are located. Moreover, the use of NUTS codes makes it possible to immediately connect information extracted from EU Framework Programmes for research and innovation to information on other policy initiatives at national or regional level, such as, for example, data on the Operational Programmes financed by the EU structural and investment funds.

R&T Telescope™ provides data on projects, participations and financial resources, structured in a way that the connection with other databases is made simpler. Other relevant database which can be connected to our data include: Bureau van Dijk data on companies; patent databases (e.g. EPO, OECD-REGPAT); Scopus which contains information on scientific publications etc. Furthermore, a connection can be easily established with existing statistical sources (e.g. Eurostat, Innovation Scoreboard) and open data (e.g. Open Cohesion data).

Bibliography

  • Ciffolilli (2016), Dove l’Italia ha un vantaggio nella tecnologia, Lavoce.info, 14.10.2016.
  • Muscio A. and Ciffolilli A. (2017), Technological diversity in Europe: empirical evidence from agri-food research projects, Regional Studies, 52:3, 374-387, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2017.1301662
  • Ciffolilli A. and Muscio A (2018), Industry 4.0: national and regional comparative advantages in key enabling technologies, European Planning Studies, 26:12, 2323-2343, DOI:10.1080/09654313.2018.1529145
  • Muscio A. and Ciffolilli A. (2019), What drives the capacity to integrate Industry 4.0 technologies? Evidence from European R&D projects, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, DOI: 10.1080/10438599.2019.1597413
  • Ciffolilli A. and Muscio A. (2019), Comparative Advantages in Industry 4.0 Key Enabling Technologies: Evidence from Horizon 2020 research projects, forthcoming in the World Bank report on Europe 4.0: The Promise of the Digital Transformation.

Recent projects based on our data

  • 2010-2013, Technology assessment of the regional high-tech network of Emilia-Romagna (Rete Alta Tecnologia E-R).
  • 2013-2016, Technical assistance to the Italian Ministry of Economic Development in the design of RTD support schemes for enterprises, in the fields of “sustainable industry” and “agri-food”.
  • 2015, Technology assessment, Phase 2, Emilia Romagna
  • 2015-2016, Mid-term evaluation of the Tuscan ERDF OP and monitoring of the smart specialisation strategy (RIS3).
  • 2018, Mid-term review of RIS3 of Tuscany, analysis of technological roadmaps and regional strategic assets.
  • 2018–2019, Fostering collaboration through mapping, analysing and interlinking of European Entrepreneurial Regions, European Commission, Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME).
  • 2019, World Bank report on Europe 4.0: The Promise of the Digital Transformation.