A wide range of empirical studies have analyzed which firm characteristics influence government evaluators on the decision to select specific firms for participating in Research and Development and Innovation subsidy programs. However, few authors have provided a precise analysis about the selection process of submitted applications for a public support. The aim of the present paper is to assess the effectiveness in the selection process and to understand which kind of projects are selected for being subsidized. The analysis is focused on the case study of applications submitted to the Portuguese Innovation Incentive System (SI Innovation) between 2007 and 2013. Once the selection criterion for accessing to this program is essentially based on competitiveness, namely in terms of internationalization and productivity, special attention was given on assessing the determinants of selection process regarding to these topics. Using a counterfactual analysis and Propensity Score Matching estimators, results show that the selection process to SI Innovation is more focused on expecting an increase of the internationalization and productivity of firms than in the efficiency of public expenditures and firm innovativeness. The conclusions of this paper could be useful for policy makers, once it identifies some failures in selection process, which according to other authors, could explain some disappointing results of public intervention in this field.