The innovation performance of the EU and its regions is increasing
Europe needs to deepen its innovation capability to compete on global markets and maintain and improve the European way of life, as called for by the European Council as recently as June 2018 and March 2019. That is why the Juncker Commission has set a new level of ambition for the EU and its Member States and regions, and proposed Horizon Europe, the most ambitious research and innovation programme ever. This will keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation.
The European Commission’s 2019 European Innovation Scoreboard and Regional Innovation Scoreboard published show that the EU’s innovation performance has been improving for four years in a row. For the first time ever, Europe’s innovation outperforms that of the United States. However, the EU continues to lose some ground to Japan and South Korea, and China is catching up fast. The data complements the Commission’s recent country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the framework of the European Semester, which highlight the role of research and innovation and include recommendations to enhance productivity growth and competitiveness.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “The Commission’s Innovation Scoreboard is about best practices and measuring success. It helps Member States, regions and the EU as a whole to learn from each other and identify in which areas policy reforms are needed to boost Europe’s innovation leadership.”
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Innovation equals future jobs and growth. I am happy to see general progress in the EU. Yet, to stay ahead in the global race, both the EU and our Member States need to continue investing and developing the right policies for innovation to flourish.”
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu added: “The EU’s Cohesion policy funds are a main driver for innovation and sustainable development. Start-ups and small enterprises help create new business models in the digital or green sector. However, innovation hubs can also grow in countries with less strong economies, and these findings help us support innovation in regional ecosystems, including in less developed regions.”
The 2019 European Innovation Scoreboard: key findings
- Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups: innovation leaders, strong innovators, moderate innovators and modest innovators. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom and Luxembourg dropped from the top rank of innovation leader status to the strong innovators group, while Estonia joins the strong innovators group for the first time.
- On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.8% since 2011. Since 2011, the innovation performance increased in 25 EU countries. Performance has increased the most in Lithuania, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and the Netherlands, and decreased the most in Romania and Slovenia.
- At the global level, the EU has surpassed the United States. The EU’s performance lead over Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa remains considerable. However, China is catching up three times as fast as the EU’s innovation performance is growing. Relative to Japan and South Korea, the EU has been losing ground.
- In selected areas of innovation, the best performing EU countries are: Denmark – human resources and innovation-friendly environment; Luxembourg – attractive research systems; France – finance and support; Germany – firm investment; Portugal – SME innovators; Austria – linkages; Malta – intellectual assets; Ireland – employment impacts and sales impacts.
The 2019 Regional Innovation Scoreboard: key findings
The 2019 Scoreboard is accompanied by the Regional Innovation Scoreboard. It provides a comparative assessment of performance of innovation systems across 238 regions of 23 EU Member States, while Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Malta are included at the country level. In addition, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard also covers regions from Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland.
The most innovative regions in the EU are Helsinki-Uusimaa, Finland followed by Stockholm, Sweden and Hovedstaden, Denmark. For 159 regions, performance has increased in the nine-year observation period. This year’s Regional Innovation Scoreboard demonstrates a strong convergence in regional performance with decreasing performance differences between regions.
About two-thirds of Europe’s economic growth over the last decades has been driven by innovation. Each euro invested by the programme can potentially generate a return of up to €11 of GDP over 25 years. Investments in research and innovations are expected to generate up to 100,000 new jobs in research and innovation activities between 2021 and 2027.
The data of the European Innovation Scoreboard and Regional Innovation Scoreboard help Member States, regions and the EU as a whole to assess areas on which they perform well and the ones on which they need policy reforms to better promote innovation. In addition, in the framework of analysis of the European Semester, the Commission presented recently the 2019 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) that give economic policy guidance to all EU Member States for the next 12 to 18 months.Research and innovation featured prominently in this year’s Country Specific Recommendations.