Lessons from Foreign Countries on How U.S. States Can Spur Manufacturing

Stephen Ezell April 9, 2012
April 9, 2012

One policy instrument gaining global traction is the use of innovation vouchers (or “innovation checks”) to spur R&D, new product development, and/or innovation activity in SME manufacturers. Almost a dozen countries—including Austria, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Sweden—as well as Iowa in the United States, use innovation vouchers. These vouchers, usually ranging in value from $5,000-$30,000, enable SMEs to “buy” expertise from universities, national laboratories, or public research institutes regarding preparatory studies, analysis of technology transfer, analysis of the innovation potential of a new technology, etc. The intent of the vouchers is both to spur innovation in SMEs and to stimulate knowledge transfer from universities and research institutions to SMEs; they also have an added benefit of more closely aligning the interests of industry and academia in a country.