Profile / Research Focus

The ‘Economics of Innovation and Policy’ research group in the Kemmy Business School (KBS), University of Limerick (UL), was founded in 2018. As such, the research cluster builds on many years of research on innovation in firms, as well as the related topics of firm growth and enterprise/industrial policy, and policy evaluation. Our research has been published in high-impact, internationally leading peer-reviewed journals, including Research PolicyEcological Economics, Small Business Economics, Regional Studies, Industry and Innovation, and Empirical Economics, amongst many others.

The prime focus of the cluster is to conduct leading-edge research on the role of public policy in driving Research and Development (R&D) and innovation in firms. Moreover, the cluster examines the impact of policy-driven R&D and innovation on firm performance outcomes, such as exports, value added, and employment growth. These firm-level outcomes can result in important economic and societal impacts. Building on over 20 years of impactful research, focused on firm growth and enterprise/industrial policy and policy evaluation, the cluster responds to the acute need for robust evidence on the precise impacts of public policy interventions, involving public funding being allocated to private firms. The research cluster also focuses on innovation processes in the arts and sciences. This strand of research uses biographical and bibliometric data, to examine barriers in the international dissemination of research ideas, and collaboration patterns in economic research.

The core-team based at UL comprises Professor Helena Lenihan (KBS faculty member), Dr. Olubunmi Ipinnaiye (KBS faculty member), Dr. Lukas Kuld (KBS faculty member), Dr. Kevin Mulligan (Postdoctoral researcher), and Mauricio Perez-Alaniz (PhD scholar). The cluster benefits from a wide international network of collaborators, based at world-leading centres of excellence in the economics of innovation and policy. For example, the cluster regularly collaborates with international academic colleagues at institutions such as ZEW (Germany), Warwick Business School (UK), the Enterprise Research Centre (UK), Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) and KU Leuven (Belgium); as well as closer to home, colleagues at institutions such as Trinity and UCC. In addition, the group engages extensively with policymakers and officials from Ireland (e.g. the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Science Foundation Ireland; Enterprise Ireland; IDA Ireland).  Internationally, our research has been cited in key reports from international organisations including the OECD, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy, and the UK Enterprise Research Centre.

In terms of research funding, the group also builds on over two decades of experience in generating significant research funding from academic sources, such as the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme, the Irish Research Council, and the Royal Irish Academy; as well as policymaking sources, such as Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.



Selected publications (over last 10 years)

For full details on the publications of individual members, please click on their individual webpages above.

  • Lenihan, H., Mulligan, K., Doran, J. Rammer, C. and Ipinnaiye, O. (2023) ‘R&D grants and R&D tax credits to foreign-owned subsidiaries: Does supporting multinational enterprises’ R&D pay off in terms of firm performance improvements for the host economy?’, Journal of Technology Transfer, DOI:
  • Lenihan, H., Mulligan, K.,Perez-Alaniz, M. and Rammer, C. (2023) ‘Serving the Right Menu of R&D Policy Instruments to Firms: An Analysis of Policy Mix Sequencing’, ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 23-009, DOI:
  • Perez-Alaniz, M., Lenihan, H., Doran, J., and Hewitt-Dundas, N. (2023) ‘Financial resources for research and innovation in small and larger firms: Is it a case of the more you have, the more you do?’, Industry and Innovation 30(2), pp. 189-232,  DOI:
  • Kuld, L. and Mitchell, S. (2023) ‘Market structure and creative cluster formation: the origins of urban clusters in German literature, 1700–1932’, European Review of Economic History, head003, DOI:
  • Lenihan, H., Mulligan, K., Doran, J., Rammer, C., & Ipinnaiye, O. (2022). R&D Grant and Tax Credit Support for Foreign-Owned Subsidiaries: Does It Pay Off? ZEW Discussion Paper No. 22-003, Mannheim (available at:
  • Mulligan, K., Lenihan, H., Doran, J., & Roper, S. (2022). Harnessing the science base: Results from a national programme using publicly-funded research centres to reshape firms’ R&D. Research Policy, 51(4), 104468 (available at:
  • Garrido-Prada, P., Lenihan, H., Doran, J., Rammer, C., & Perez-Alaniz, M. (2021). Driving the circular economy through public environmental and energy R&D: Evidence from SMEs in the European Union. Ecological Economics, 182, 106884 (available at:
  • Hellmanzik, C. & Kuld, L. (2021). No place like home: geography and culture in the dissemination of economic research articles, Empirical Economics, 61(1), 201-229 (available at:
  • Lenihan, H., Mulligan, K., & O'Driscoll, J. (2020) A cross-country repository of details on the innovation and science policy instruments available to firms in eight countries (2007-2020): The devil is in the detail. Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Ireland, September 2020 (available at:
  • Lenihan, H., McGuirk, H., & Murphy, K. R. (2019). Driving innovation: Public policy and human capital. Research Policy, 48(9), 103791 (available at:
  • Mulligan, K., Lenihan, H., & Doran, J. (2019). More subsidies, more innovation? Evaluating whether a mix of subsidies from regional, national and EU sources crowds out firm-level innovation. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 6(1), 130-138 (available at:
  • Doyle, E., McGovern, D., McCarthy, S., & Perez-Alaniz, M. (2019). Compliance-innovation: A quality-based route to sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production, 210, 266-275 (available at:
  • Kuld, L., O’Hagan, J. (2018). Rise of multi-authored papers in economics: Demise of the ‘lone star’ and why?. Scientometrics 114, 1207–1225 (available at:
  • Haapanen, M., Lenihan, H., & Tokila, A. (2017). Innovation expectations and patenting in private and public R&D projects. Growth and Change, 48(4), 744-768 (available at:
  • Ipinnaiye, O., Dineen, D., & Lenihan, H. (2017). Drivers of SME performance: a holistic and multivariate approach. Small Business Economics, 48(4), 883-911 (available at:
  • Martinez-Covarrubias, J. L., Lenihan, H., & Hart, M. (2017). Public support for business innovation in Mexico: a cross-sectional analysis. Regional Studies, 51(12), 1786-1800 (available at:
  • McGuirk, H., Lenihan, H., & Hart, M. (2015). Measuring the impact of innovative human capital on small firms’ propensity to innovate. Research Policy, 44(4), 965-976 (available at:
  • Bailey, D., & Lenihan, H. (2015). A critical reflection on Irish industrial policy: a strategic choice approach. International Journal of the Economics of Business, 22(1), 47-71 (available at:
  • Haapanen, M., Lenihan, H., & Mariani, M. (2014). Government policy failure in public support for research and development. Policy Studies, 35(6), 557-575 (available at:
  • Lenihan, H. (2011). Enterprise policy evaluation: Is there a ‘new’ way of doing it?. Evaluation and Program Planning, 34(4), 323-332 (available at:
  • Anyadike-Danes, M., Hart, M., & Lenihan, H. (2011). New business formation in a rapidly growing economy: the Irish experience. Small Business Economics, 36(4), 503-516 (available at:


A recent related funded project (Funding period 2018-2023)

Project title: ‘Evaluating the impact of innovation and science policy on the economy and society: A national evaluation and international benchmarking of innovation and science policy in Ireland’

In 2018, Professor Helena Lenihan was awarded major research grant funding, under Science Foundation Ireland’s Science Policy Research Programme. Under this grant, Professor Lenihan is the Principal Investigator (PI). On this project, Dr. Kevin Mulligan is a Postdoctoral researcher, Mauricio Perez-Alaniz is a PhD student, and Dr. Olubunmi Ipinnaiye is a departmental collaborator. Other Postdoctoral researchers and Research Assistants have been involved at various stages of the project.  The project examines the impact of public R&D funding on firm-level R&D, innovation, and firm performance outcomes. The project is multifaceted, focusing on many key parts of the Irish and international innovation systems. For example, one part of the project examines the impact of a key individual policy intervention, the establishment of the SFI research centres programme and its impact on firm-level R&D; while other parts of the project focus on the impact of R&D grants and R&D tax credits on foreign-owned subsidiaries’ R&D and firm performance outcomes. Furthermore, the project examines the role of non-financial constraints in firms’ innovation processes, as well as the impact of public R&D support on firms’ eco-innovation outcomes, both in Ireland and internationally.  The project is largely quantitative in nature, employing state-of-the-art econometrics. To date, this project has led to several academic publications in high-impact, internationally leading academic journals, including Research PolicyEcological Economics, and Industry and Innovation. Research from this project has received significant media coverage. Recent examples of research from this project featuring in online media include the following:,

Some examples of policy engagement

In 2021, Professor Helena Lenihan was invited to Chair (for a period of 3 years) the Steering Committee for a joint research programme between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE), and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) titled ‘The Productivity Challenge and Its interaction with Climate, Digitalisation and Human Capital’.  The committee comprises representatives from DETE, the ESRI and the Chair of Ireland’s National Competitiveness and Productivity Council.

In addition to the above recent example, this research group builds on over 20 years of quality academic work, which has significantly impacted the policy landscape in both Ireland and internationally.  There are numerous examples to cite in this regard, but illustrative examples include:

Research from group members being cited in reports from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (formerly DBEI/DJEI), and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2018, 2017, 2015, 2011, and 2003.

Members of the research group contributed to a Public Consultation on the Enterprise Policy White Paper, available at:  This document highlighted eight points with a view to providing an evidence base regarding the future direction of Enterprise Policy in Ireland, based on the insights of the research emanating from this research group.

Being invited by the UK Enterprise Research Centre and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK, to write State of the Art (SOTA) Reviews (2018 and 2022).  Both reviews below were designed to provide a summary of the evidence base and key pieces of academic research on the Policy Mix for Innovation. The SOTA reviews are available as follows:

Being invited by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to produce a Policy Brief (targeted at key policymakers and stakeholders), to summarise the empirical findings and implications for policy of our research publication on “Financial Resources for research and innovation in small and larger firms: Is it a case of the more you have, the more you do?”, May 2022.(available at: , and full paper available at:

Research from group members published in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2011 on enterprise/industrial policy evaluation, was cited in the 2018 report on ‘Industrial Policy: Rationale, Evaluation and Prospects’, to the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis.

Interested in doing a PhD with our research group?

A large cohort of PhD students have been supervised to completion during and preceding the establishment of the ‘Economics of Innovation and Policy’ research cluster. For any queries on doing a PhD on the economics of innovation and policy (or any related area) with any members of our research group, please contact Professor Helena Lenihan (