Technological Forecasting and Social Change
The return to R&D investment and activities has been the object of a vast literature, both from a theoretical and empirical perspective. The aim of this overview is to present a selection of contributions to underscore the main shared findings and highlight open issues, while also providing a preliminary analysis of the returns to R&D investment in large research infrastructures (RIs) in Europe. First, a common methodological framework is distilled from the macro-literature, examining the return to R&D in aggregate terms. Then, the evaluation in the context of specific projects, mainly in large RIs, is examined, followed by the explicit consideration of externalities and spillover effects of research activities. A novel empirical analysis of European RIs is also presented, based on a novel data set, to highlight trends and suggest new avenues for the evaluation of the rate of return to investments in research infrastructures, using both a cost effectiveness ratio and a bibliometric citation count as metrics to evaluate the return to R&D investment in these facilities. Directions for future research are sketched in the concluding section.