The European SPINTAN (Smart Public Intangibles) project, completed in January 2017 after three years of research, has analyzed the role of public sector intangible assets on the growth of advanced economies. To begin, a manual was developed to measure the assets listed on the SPINTAN website, which has served as reference to create a database on public intangibles that gathers information for 22 EU countries, United States, China and Brazil. The data covers the period 1995-2015 and provides information on investment and capital stock in intangible assets, such as design, brand, production of entertainment and artistic originals, firms’ organizational structure, employer-provided training, as well as R&D expenditure and software, which are already included in each country’s national accounts.
This new database, which is also available on the SPINTAN website, includes information on the following sectors: R&D services, Public administration, Defense and compulsory social security, Education, Human health activities, Social work activities and Arts and entertainment.
SPINTAN also analyzes the impact of public sector intangibles on innovation, welfare and economic growth, especially due to the complementary role they play in other production factors, such as ICT assets, and the effects they generate on the total economy beyond the original investment. The project assesses the importance of organizational structure in educational and health institutions and measures the efficiency of higher education institutions in carrying out research. Finally, the project has placed special interest in measuring the effects of austerity policies implemented during the crisis on the investment in intangible assets and their impact on well-being.
The research has led to the publication of a working paper series which focus on analyzing the nature and structure of public investment in health, education and R&D intangibles. The work carried out by the SPINTAN members has generated so far 23 working papers, which in turn have resulted in 16 policy briefs (reports that include policy-making recommendations).