Design of the Study

European Foundations for Research and Innovation


In 2009, the European Foundation Centre (EFC) finished the FOREMAP project. The Foundations Research and Mapping project was the first attempt to systematically document foundations’ contribution to research and innovation in Europe. Four countries were selected to pilot a mapping methodology, which has been designed for application across the EU. Germany, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden, characterized by a diverse background in foundations and research, formed the first pilot group. The results showed a diverse and nuanced picture of foundations supporting research in the respective countries and immediately ignited a wish to expand the study to all countries of the EU. The findings from the FOREMAP project highlighted the benefits of expanding such a mapping to all EU Member States in order to get a comprehensive picture of research- and /or innovation-funding foundations. A better understanding of the sector would allow policy-makers to give fuller consideration to the role and important contribution of foundations when developing research and innovation policies. As regards European research- and/or innovation-funding foundations, it would help develop their activities by increasing their knowledge and understanding of their European peers and by identifying new approaches and practices that they could implement. A team of national experts in the EU 27 (and Norway and Switzerland), led by VU University Amsterdam, has therefore been commissioned by the European Commission to study foundations’ contribution to research and innovation in the EU under the name EUFORI.

Aim of the study

The aim of the EUFORI study is to quantify and assess foundations’ financial support and policies for research and innovation in the EU, make a comparative analysis between 29 European countries, and identify trends and the potential for future developments in this sector. The basis for the work will be the collection of data on the characteristics and activities of research-funding foundations in each EU Member State. 

Design of the Study

National Experts

In order to collect data on the contributions of foundations to research and innovation in the EU, a network consisting out of national experts on foundations from 29 countries is involved in this study.

View the Countries and Experts page for a complete overview of participating states and researchers.

Data collection

For the quantitative part of the EUFORI study, foundations with a (presumed) focus on Research and/or Innovation received an invitation to fill in the EUFORI questionnaire. More than 12,000 European foundations have been contacted for the survey. From these 12,000 foundations, 2113 foundations have filled in the (online) questionnaire.

For the qualitative part of the study, each National Experts has selected 5 to 10 foundations that are typical for the foundation sector in his/her country. Stakeholders and other parties that could give more insight in the practice of R&I focused foundations, have optionally been interviewed as well to present a complete picture.

Final Report

The qualitative and the quantitative part will form the heart of the National Reports, drafted by each National Expert. A synthesis report on the aggregated data and comparative results will be written by the coordinating team. Together, the 29 National Reports and the synthesis Report will form the Final EUFORI report.

Scope of the Study and Definitions

The most important lesson learnt from the FOREMAP study is that definitions only serve as a reference. As the legal and fiscal frameworks vary greatly from country to country it turned out to be difficult to come up with a single definition. Therefore national experts are required to adapt definitions to their own national context.


A foundation is an asset-based, purpose-driven, separately constituted, non-profit body with no members or shareholders. Foundations have established and reliable incomes, whether they be from an endowment or other sources. They focus on areas of public benefit ranging from the environment, social services, health and education, to science, research, arts and culture.


Foundations active in the field of research fund/operate basic and/or applied research projects or programmes covering all thematic aspects of science, technology and innovation, from the social sciences, humanities, philosophy, engineering and technology, to natural sciences, mathematics, agricultural sciences and medical sciences (including clinical trials phases 1,2 and 3) and pharmacology. Foundations supporting research-related activities are also covered. These include support for projects/programmes on researcher mobility, knowledge transfer (including intellectual property rights/patents), infrastructure (laboratories, research centres, pilot or demo plants), dissemination of research (seminars, conferences, etc) and science communication (museums and science parks).


For the purpose of this study, the definition of Innovation is: “The introduction to the market of a new product, methodology, service and/or technology or a combination of these aspects”. Examples of innovation with a public benefit are: green energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels; new services like e-health. We emphasize that private benefit purposes in the area of innovation are excluded from the study. Not included are for example small and medium enterprises who spend money on product development in their own companies and present this as support for innovation. Another example is that we want to exclude banks with foundations which give money to develop financial products and present this as innovation.