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Innovation policy and public funding to stimulate innovation in knowledge intensive companies: the influence of human and social capital

Samuel Façanha Câmara (Postgraduate Program in Management, State University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil)
Brenno Buarque (Postgraduate Program in Management, State University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil)
Glauco Paula Pinto (Postgraduate Program in Management, State University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil)
Thiago Vasconcelos Ribeiro (Postgraduate Program in Management, State University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil)
Jorge Barbosa Soares (Department of Transport Engineering, Federal University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 6 December 2022

Issue publication date: 25 January 2024




This study aims to evaluates a public policy program that finances projects for the development of innovative technological solutions. This paper analyzed the influence of human and social capital on the development of the projects, under the perspective of the policy’s effectiveness and efficiency. This specific policy adopted the funding model of economic subsidy by means of grants, which shows the significant engagement of the public sector in applying nonrefundable resources more directly through loans, assuming the role of an entrepreneurial state, according to Mazzucato (2011, 2018) and Tavani and Zamparelli (2020).


This is a quantitative-descriptive study, according to Marconi and Lakatos (2017). This study is descriptive, for presenting information on innovation projects funded by FUNCAP (Ceará Foundation for Support to Scientific and Technological Development). In addition, this study is quantitative, by establishing multivariate relationships among the variables that relate to human capital and social capital, which are relevant to technological and innovative development, and by introducing variables on technological evolution, proposed as measures of the program’s effectiveness (DTRL, MkTRL) and efficiency (ETRL).


This paper sought to contribute on public policies for innovation, more specifically on analyzing variables that may affect the development of technological and innovative projects in knowledge-intensive companies. The authors studied capitals potentially important for these companies in the development of innovative projects. Specifically, the authors sought to understand the importance of human capital and how it reflects in technical and scientific knowledge of the project team and of social capital and how it reflects the connection and social relationship among different team members. The results presented that the degree of efficiency of the public funding program depends on how much the teams of the benefited projects have accumulated knowledge, skills and technical capacities – the so-called teams’ human capital.

Research limitations/implications

It is important to address the research sample as a research limitation, which had 72 responses obtained, from a submission rate of 284. Another study limitation is on the qualitative analysis of the topics addressed from the companies and policymakers perspectives, considering that the quantitative nature of the study does not allow for a deeper understanding of the qualitative perspective of the actors involved in the phenomenon studied. As recommendations for future studies, it is suggested to conduct qualitative studies on the aspects studied here. In this sense, it is possible to conduct case studies for specific companies, or policymakers, to clarify and deepen the relationships between the themes addressed here.

Practical implications

As for the practical implications of the research, both for managers of public funding programs and for company managers, the benefits of human capital, related to innovative project development teams, are important in programs that deal with technological development projects. In practice, this means that the greater the human capital of academic background of the members of the supported project teams, the more efficient the projects are in the process of developing their technologies by using the resources provided (Ashford, 2000; Chen et al., 2008; Lerro et al., 2014).

Social implications

Hence, the authors conclude that the evaluated innovation-funding program through grants achieved acceptable results in terms of promoting the technological evolution of the benefited projects and bringing the technologies closer to the market. Its efficiency was the least favorable result, showing that the program needs to focus on improving this specific aspect. Within the investigated program, the issue that needs enhancement (efficiency – ETRL) was the one that presented significant relationships with the human and social capital of the benefited projects’ teams. Thus, it is possible that, by selecting more projects that have teams with high capital, the efficiency of the public policy, in this case the development of projects with high technological and innovative potential, will be possibly reached.


The findings strengthen the need for innovation public policies designed and implemented in a systemic way in the science, technology and innovation ecosystem, to provide a technological infrastructure and human capital necessary for developing projects with high technological and innovative potential (Ergas, 1987; Audretsch and Link, 2012; Caloghirou et al., 2015; Edler and Fagerberg, 2017; Silvio et al., 2019).



The authors would like to thank FUNCAP for the database access, and also the ‘Chief Scientist Program’, that made this research possible.


Câmara, S.F., Buarque, B., Pinto, G.P., Ribeiro, T.V. and Soares, J.B. (2024), "Innovation policy and public funding to stimulate innovation in knowledge intensive companies: the influence of human and social capital", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 418-442.



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