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ERAWATCH

Platform on Research and Innovation policies and systems

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In March 2013, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) created...
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Argentine Sector Fund (FONARSEC)

Fondo Argentino Sectorial (FONARSEC)

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Keywords
 
technological platforms
business R&D
technological transfer
problem driven research
Overview
 

FONARSEC aims at promoting capacity building, innovative projects in the agro-sector, health and energy and science for social inclusion and the application of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information and communication technologies. Established in 2009, the fund aims at providing support for research and innovation in the aforementioned sectors while defining priority research areas. Specifically, FONARSEC promotes R&D+i, enhances public-private partnerships and the creation or expansion of research centres to be shared by multiple firms and institutes.

The resources managed by FONARSEC are a combination of funds from the Federal government and loans from the World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Official documents state that the purpose of the fund is to develop critical capacities in areas with high potential impact and ongoing transfer to the productive sector, helping to increase competitiveness and troubleshoot problems diagnosed with a view to meeting the demands of society, companies, and the State. To achieve these goals, FONARSEC includes a variety of promotion instruments that bring the creation of knowledge-intensive firms to the centre of the stage (high-technology industries) and promote private-public alliances for R&D. These instruments include: the Technological Infrastructure and Equipment Projects (PRIETec) aimed at expanding the operational capacity of R&D institutions (adapting the existing infrastructure and acquiring scientific equipment) to facilitate business and/or technology-based companies incubation; Training Programme for Managers and Technological Linkers (GTec) aimed at supporting the training of managers and technological linkers, which enhance the innovation and technological development capacities at companies and scientific-technological institutions; EMPRETECNO – Technology-Based Companies (EMPRETECNO - TBC) in charge of promoting the development of technology-based companies in the different productive areas.

As a whole, FONARSEC is structured around specific sectoral “sub-funds” (such as FS Nano, FS ICT, FS Biotech) and provides subsidies and tax credits for firms, scholarships for students in selected fields, training for management skills for technology-based ventures and support scientific infrastructure and equipment modernisation projects. The settings up of FONARSEC strengthen the role and importance given to knowledge transfer. The promotion of interactions between different stakeholders and joint research endeavours are one of the pillars of the current S&T policy. Specifically, recent calls by the National Agency of Promotion of Science and Technology ANPCYT have emphasized the promotion of alliance-building and collaborative work among enterprises and universities and research centres. At the same time, the newly established sectoral funds specifically aim at facilitating the incubation of firms and providing bridge mechanisms between the research performers and the firms.

Background and rationale
 

Similarly to other programmes implemented by the National Agency of Promotion of Science and Technology (ANPCYT), the rationale for establishing FONARSEC is to provide public support based upon the traditional theory of "market failures". Specifically, it aims to mainly address financial constraints and promote collaboration and technology transfer. Following the path started with FONSOFT, FONARSEC has signified an important shift towards sectoral policies and the selection of strategic technologies.

Policy Priorities
 

Sectoral policies and the selection of strategic technologies.

Main Policy Priorities
2.3.1 Direct support of business R&D (grants and loans)
Other Policy Priorities
2.1.4 Research Infrastructures
2.2.3 R&D cooperation (joint projects, PPP with research institutes)
2.3.1 Direct support of business R&D (grants and loans)
4.2.1 Support to innovation management and advisory services
4.3.1 Support to innovative start-ups incl. gazelles
Targeting specific sectors
 
3.04.04. Pharmaceuticals (2423)
Targeted research and technology fields
 

FONARSEC aims at promoting capacity building, innovative projects in the agro-sector, health and energy and science for social inclusion and the application of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information and communication technologies

Selected research and technnology fields
 
Biotechnology
Energy
Environment
Health
ICT
Materials
Nanosciences and nanotechnologies
Addressing Lisbon guidelines
 
Improvements in innovation support services, in particular for dissemination and technology transfer.
The creation and development of innovation to bridge the technology gap between regions
Start date
 
2009
Expected ending
 
No end date planned
Relationship to other measures
 
Novel measure: Yes

If the measure is novel was it mainly:
 
Other
Other: Inspired by other regional experiences (mostly from the OECD) and in close cooperation with the IDB
How does the measure relate to other measures?
 

In 1996, two competitive funds (FONCYT and FONTAR) were established under the newly created ANPCYT to support R&D and innovation nationwide. These funds haven’t had any particular focus, being conceived as horizontal support measures. FONSOFT was the first evidence of a policy change towards more sectoral policies being this continued and strengthens with the creation of FONARSEC in 2009.

In 2007, the upgrading of the Secretary of Science and Technology (i.e., the agency in charge of science and technology policies at the federal government level) into the current Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) represented a major institutional evolution and it is a proof to the priority that the government has placed on technological development. Since its creation MINCYT also fostered a policy change from an exclusive emphasis on horizontal instruments towards more sectoral policies and the selection of strategic technologies.

It adds to the existing measures by supporting innovative projects in the agro-sector, health and energy and science for social inclusion projects R&D and the application of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information and communication technologies throughout the economy.

Geographic coverage
 

National coverage

Targets or beneficiares of the measure.
 
Higher education institutions (education function)
Higher educations institutions research units/centres
New technology based firms/new knowledge intensive service firms
Other non-profit research organisations (not HEI)
Technology and innovation centres (non-profit)

Higher education institutions (education function)
New technology based firms/new knowledge intensive service firms
Other: Consortia and Public-private partnerships
More details on the target groups
 

The thematic sub-funds in biotechnology, ICT, energy, health and nanotechnology (partially fin­anced through matching grants) support projects for generating technological platforms for the sector conducted by a Private Public Consortium (CPP), created under a public instrument, integrated by at least one group of researchers within a Public or non-for-profi­t Private Institution.

If more than one target group is eligible
 
Co-operation/networking mandatory (e.g. cluster programme)
Overall implementation structure of the measure
 

FONARSEC is structured around components and thematic sub-funds. The components include a variety of promotion instruments to promote private-public alliances for R&D, skill upgrading and creation of technology based companies. Specifically, the instruments include: (1) the Technological Infrastructure and Equipment Projects  (PRIETec) aiming at expanding the operational capacity of R&D institutions (adapting the existing infrastructure and acquiring scientific equipment) to facilitate business and/or technology-based companies incubation; (2) Training Programme for Managers and Technological Linkers (GTec) aimed at supporting the training of managers and technological linkers, which enhance the innovation and technological development capacities at companies and scientific-technological institutions; (3) EMPRETECNO – Technology-Based Companies (EMPRETECNO - TBC) in charge of promoting the development of technology-based companies in the different productive areas.

At the thematic sub-sector FONARSEC is structure around specific sectoral funds for what MINCYT has labelled “Technological Platforms”: Nanotechnology (FS Nano), ICTs (FS ICT), biotechnology (FS Biotech), energy and health. Each of these thematic sub-funds provides support for public-private research and innovation consortia while defining priority research areas.

Each funding measure has specific eligibility criteria, size and allow for specific duration of the supported projects.

The different measures are structured around calls for projects with the exception of EMPRETECNO – Technology-Based Companies that is organized around an open window scheme. The applications for support are received through a specific form at the ANPCYT website (see http://www.agencia.mincyt.gov.ar/spip.php?article1062). This system is used as a support for decision making at all stages of the projects, i.e. submission, evaluation of proposals, awarding, monitoring and final evaluation of results. As a general rule, FONARSEC understands the process of application, evaluation and monitoring as a seamless continuous process for which the FONARSEC technical staff is to provide feedback and support to the applicants. (More info on: http://www.agencia.mincyt.gov.ar/spip.php?article1001)

Sub-measure structure
 

EMPRETECNO – Technology-Based Companies (EMPRETECNO - TBC) focus specifically on the creation of knowledge intensive firms and to facilitate business and/or technology-based companies incubation. Each project might request up to €500,000, for up to 75% of the total costs of the projects. In the same direction, ANPCYT has set up a programme aimed at supporting the training of managers and technological linkers GTec. With this object GTec provides funding for universities, whether public or private, and institutions registered with the Public Registry of CONEAU (National Committee for University Evaluation and Qualification), which provide higher education, professional training, and which are focused on technology generation and transfer. The matching grant is for a maximum of €150,000 per year for up to 4 years, being the grant provided by ANPCYT up to 50% of the total cost of the project.

The Technological Infrastructure and Equipment Projects (PRIETec) aims at expanding the operational capacity of R&D institutions (adapting the existing infrastructure and acquiring scientific equipment) to facilitate business and/or technology-based companies incubation. Both Public or non-for-profi­t private entities whose main activity is research, development, and transfer of technology to the productive sector are eligible to apply for projects in between €300,000 and €1 million.

FONARSEC also includes a scholarship scheme (Becas TICs) aimed at supporting low-income students, preferably coming from technical tracks at secondary schools, entering the tertiary education level in fields related with software and computer science. The program provide up for an initial yearly amount of €1,000. The stipends are combined with tutoring and mentoring and efforts in upgrading the quality of the teaching programmes.

The thematic sub-funds in biotechnology, ICT, energy, health and nanotechnology partially fin­ance –through matching grants- projects for generating technological platforms for the sector conducted by a Private Public Consortium (CPP), created under a public instrument, integrated by at least one group of researchers within a Public or non-for-profi­t Private Institution. The non-refundable contributions are for up to €5 million, with counterparty that shall amount to at least 30% of the total cost of the project. These funds define priority research areas based on social problems as the production of vaccines, improving the productivity and reduce the contamination effect of the diary industry, promote the development of solar energy, among others.

Management structure
 

Three different coordinator units assist the director of FONARSEC: Evaluation Coordination, Management Coordination, Acquisitions and Procurement Coordination. The first of these units concerns the process of review and its interaction with external reviewers, in most of the cases outside the country, and other scientific and technical units. In total, around 20 people are employed by FONARSEC. The internal organisation is provided at: http://www.agencia.mincyt.gob.ar/upload/Organigramas-FONARSEC.jpg

A weakness in the STI institutional framework is the persistent lack of a structured monitoring and evaluation system for institutions and programmes. Although a number of capacities have been developed within ANPCYT, these focus only on monitoring and not on impact assessment. Moreover, the roles to be played in evaluation processes by the different hierarchical levels are not clearly defined. Lastly, in comparison to more advanced innovation systems, there is no agency to conduct studies in the STI field to provide input to MINCYT for the planning, evaluation, and policy-making process. These shortcomings are obstacles to the learning process and to ongoing improvement of STI policies.  The new loans with the IDB explicitly try to address this weakness. So far, FONARSEC has not been subject to an impact evaluation.

Review of progress
 

FONARSEC receives regular progress reports on the selected projects. Special attention is paid to the progress reports in relation to the agreed work plan and expenditure flows. New disbursements require the approval of these reports. At the same time, the program is continuously assessed in terms of disbursements and call for proposal by both the IDB and the WB.

Selection criteria
 

FONARSEC is organised around promotion instruments. In practice, eligible beneficiaries apply for individual instruments. Each of these promotion instruments presents their own eligibility criteria and support different innovation activities.

Four different criteria are used in the assessment of the projects: (1) quality and technical feasibility; (2) technical capacity of the executing unit; (3) economic, financial and managerial assessment of the beneficiary firm and; (4) economic assessment of the project.

Openness to EU countries
 

Not open

Openness to third countries
 

Not open

Selection process of projects / participants
 

Each instrument has its own deadline established by the ANPCYT. FONARSEC understands the process of application, evaluation and monitoring as a seamless continuous process for which the FONARSEC technical staff have to provide feedback and support to the applicants. In terms of the selection of participants, the R&D proposals require collaborative work among enterprises and universities and research centres. More information on: http://www.agencia.mincyt.gob.ar/upload/Reglamento_operativo.pdf

What State Aid framework is applied to the measure?
 

Not applicable.

ModeOfFunding
 
Grants
Other: Scholarships
Elegible costs
 
Equipment
Labour costs (including overheads)
Other
Training (including study trips)

Sources of co-financing
 
Other co-financing
Other: Multilateral organisations

Overall budget in EUR
 
27,000,000
Exchange rate used (1 EUR = # in national currency):
 
1 EUR = 5.85 AR$
Overall budget in national currency:
 
156,500,000
Years:
 
2009
23,900,000

2010
43,100,000

2011
17,500,000

2012
27,000,000

Further information
 

In 2010, MINCYT and ANPCYT managed a combined budget of AR$850m (€166m). Delays in approval of the 2011 budget imply an automatic renewal of the same figures. In 2012, ANPCYT managed a total of €186m. Following the tradition of cooperation with the IDB, the Argentine Government agreed in 2009 a Conditional Credit Loan-Technological Investment Programme for a total of €675m for a 10 year period beginning in 2009 (€580m from IDB and €95m from the Argentinean government) aimed at supporting established funds (FONTAR, FONSOFT and FONCYT) and the creation of new sectoral innovation funds. The Inter-American Bank agreed to provide a loan of US$100m (€75m) for the FONARSEC.

FONARSEC allocated in 2012 a total of €27m (58% increase with respect to 2011) in benefits for a total of 16 projects (8 in 2011).


Further information:

http://www.agencia.mincyt.gob.ar/frontend/agencia/post/418

http://www.agencia.mincyt.gob.ar/frontend/agencia/fondo/fonarsec

Indicators specified ex ante
 
No
Support Measure evaluation
 
Ex-Ante: No
On-going/Mid-term: No
Final/Ex-post: No
If the programme was evaluated, what were the main findings?
 

No official evaluation has been undertaken.

If no official evaluation has been undertaken is there any evidence which allows an appraisal of the success of the measure?
 

No official evaluation has been undertaken. There is evidence of an increase in demand and prompt implementation of the received funds. This is regularly monitored by both the IDb and the WB as a pre-condition to allow further transfers as part of the agreed loans.

Results
 

FONARSEC is continually renewed and no termination date has been suggested. With each new loan agreement, new instruments are included (and some abandoned). ANPCYT publishes regularly some examples of projects and their impacts on their website.

Further development
 

The previous evaluations of the instruments under ANPCYT allowed the creation of a new fund for the promotion of R&D and innovation in specific sectors (FONARSEC and Sectoral Funds). As mentioned before, these new funds are the result of new loan agreements between the Federal Government, the IDB and the WB.

Website in original language
 
Legal basis
 

Presidential Decree 1660 (1996), establishing the ANPCYT.

Available at: http://www.agencia.mincyt.gob.ar/archivo/1365/agencia/dec1660-96-creacion-de-la-agencia

Launching Agency
 

National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology - Agencia Nacional de Promoción de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ANPCYT)

Agency administering
 

National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology - Agencia Nacional de Promoción de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ANPCYT)

Funding Agency
 

National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology - Agencia Nacional de Promoción de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ANPCYT)

Manager(s) responsible for the measure
 

Prof. Isabel Mac Donald.

Correspondent name
 
Ezequiel Tacsir
Document Date
 
20/12/2011

Country Highlights

Argentina to increase productivity...
Argentina 11/11/2013
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Version: 2.1.0