Innovation, research and networking are some of the main themes competitive development is based on, at both corporate and territorial production system level. Even though policies to promote R&D are considered crucial to foster competitiveness, only a limited number of countries have experienced significant improvements in this area, despite the large opportunities offered by globalization and new technologies. Notwithstanding the strategic importance acquired by R&D in the political and economic debate, there are two aspects that seem to strongly emerge in Italy: 1) the structural backwardness on these themes compared to the rest of the European countries, and 2) a lack of evaluation analysis to investigate results and effects produced at the regional level by programs and public investments to support R&D. The article presents some results of an evaluative research on the effects of the R&D policies implemented by the Region of Sardinia from 1994 to 2006. The article focuses on some issues raised by the research, in particular on the effects of these policies as far as the ability to provide services by public agencies, the capability to attract innovative firms from outside the island and the extent to which subsidies may promote additional investments in R&D are regarded. In addition, some of the main difficulties of the entire evaluation research process are analyzed, providing information about the choices made by the regional Government on the basis of some of the results and suggestions provided by this evaluative research.
Keywords: Research, innovation, regional policies, evaluation of effects