Key Points

This article presents the most important results of the European Foundation for Research and Innovation Study, the first study to map the roles and collective contributions of Europe’s large, heterogeneous, and fragmented sector of research and innovation foundations.

The study, based on a review of about 1,000 foundations, estimates that they contribute at least $6.4 billion a year to research and innovation in Europe. While this estimate shows that the contribution is quite substantial, its economic weight is modest compared to that of government, the business sector, and other actors in the domain of research and innovation.

European foundations prefer to describe their relationship with other actors as complementary. But foundations play an important role as innovative risk takers, and have greater flexibility than government and the business sector to support projects in underdeveloped areas. The various players in the domain of research have their own distinctive roles; together, they can make a difference in increasing the potential for research and innovation in Europe.