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How innovative is your country?

EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US, Sweden is once again the innovation leader, and Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator.

The European Commission released yesterday (14 July) the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard.

“I want Europe to be a place where innovative SMEs and start-ups flourish and scale up within the Single Market,” said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

She added that this requires a concerted effort. “At EU level, we need to simplify VAT regulation, adapt insolvency rules, make information on regulatory requirements more easily accessible, work on a clear and SME-friendly intellectual property framework and keep adapting the Single Market.”

The annual European Innovation Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance based on a number of key indicators of EU countries and selected third countries such as Iceland, Israel, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The report helps them assess areas in which they need to concentrate their efforts to boost their innovation performance. On a more limited number of indicators, available internationally, the report also covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.

Among the main findings of the report are:

  • Sweden is once more the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • In selected areas of innovation, the EU leaders are: Sweden – human resources and quality of academic research; Finland – financial framework conditions; Germany – private investment in innovation; Belgium – innovation networks and collaboration; and Ireland – innovation in small and medium-sized companies.
  • The fastest growing innovators are Latvia, Malta, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the UK.
  • Regional innovative hubs exist also in moderate innovator countries: Piemonte and Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy, País Vasco in Spain and Bratislavský kraj in Slovakia.

Overall, the key driver of becoming an innovation leader is to adopt a balanced innovation system which combines an appropriate level of public and private investment, effective innovation partnerships among companies and with academia, as well as a strong educational basis and excellent research.

The economic impact of innovation needs to manifest itself in terms of sales and exports of innovative products as well as in employment.

Specialisation in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) increases regional innovation performance, in particular in advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, and advanced manufacturing technologies.

Over the next two years the EU’s innovation performance is expected to improve. A majority of companies plan to maintain or increase the level of investment in innovation over the next year. Businesses in Romania, Malta and Ireland are the most likely to increase their investment in innovation next year.

By boosting private investment and improving the framework conditions for innovation, the EU has the potential to lead in innovation at the global stage. With an average score of 0.52, the EU as a whole is already catching up with global innovation leaders.

In fact the top performing Member States are almost on a par with the US, Japan and South Korea and have surpassed Israel and Canada. The most innovative country in Europe is Switzerland.

The Brussels Times (Source: European Commission)