Belgium has ranked among the top best-performing countries in the European Union when it comes to innovation, according to research from the European Commission published on Monday.
Belgium’s performance has steadily increased over time, according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, as its innovation performance increased by 20.7% in 2021 compared to 2014, and by over 9% since last year, ranking it alongside Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.
“The recent increase in Belgium’s innovation performance between 2020 and 2021 is due to strong performance increases in several indicators using innovation survey data, but also in Digital skills, Venture capital, and Resource productivity,” the report published on Monday stated.
Its top three indicators include Foreign doctorate students, Innovative SMEs collaborating with others, and Enterprises providing ICT training, whilst it showed above-average scores on the Climate change-related indicators.
Belgium’s score, based on some 30 factors in four categories including framework conditions (human resources, attractiveness of research systems, digitalisation), investments, innovation activities and impacts (sustainability, exports, employment), was “well above the EU average” of 12.5%.
The European innovation scoreboard compares the innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours, and assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems to help countries identify areas they need to address.
The study found that lower-performing countries are growing faster than higher-performing ones, “therefore closing the innovation gap among them.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and magnified others such as climate change and growing inequalities,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, said in a statement.
“Innovation and research are essential to curb the health crisis and its socio-economic consequences. Innovation and research are at the core of the EU policy agenda for a sustainable, digital and resilient recovery.”
To support its lead in innovation, the European Commission created the Horizon Europe funding program, one of the world’s largest research and innovation programs, with a budget of over €95.5 billion for 2021-2027.
It aims to provide support to facilitate collaboration and strengthen the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing EU policies.