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EU innovation rising but divide between countries widening

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EU innovation rising but divide between countries widening


Despite the ongoing economic crisis, innovation performance in the EU is on the rise. However, the latest report also highlights the growing divide between Member States.

The results come from the European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013, and cover the five-year period 2008-2012.

The scoreboard is compiled using numerous criteria which are broken down into three subcategories: ‘Enablers’, ‘Firm activities’ and ‘Output’. These categories encompass areas such as research, finance and support, technical innovators, high-tech product exports and human resources.

The order of countries has remained relatively stable from previous research, with Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Finland topping the innovation table.

However the less-innovative countries are no longer catching up with the leading countries, indicating a divergence between Member States.

Overall the average EU innovation performance rate grew 1.6%, but the unquestionable leader of growth is Estonia with an annual rate increase of 7.1%. Other improving countries include Lithuania and Latvia with increases of 5% and 4.4% respectively. The only decline in innovation took place in Greece -1.7% and Cyprus -0.7%.

What makes a country successful in innovation?

The report indicates that the leading countries are all strong in national research and innovation systems and place more focus on business innovation, strong links between industry and science and well-developed higher education.

Findings also show that small and medium sized enterprises, as well as license and patent revenues from abroad are a driver of growth.

Outside the EU

The report also compares the EU members to other European and global countries. Switzerland has repeatedly surpassed all 27 of the EU countries and continues to do so. Other outperforming countries include the US, Japan and South Korea, with South Korea joining the US as the ‘most innovative country’

Also read – Europe’s need for a little clarity on Big Data

See the graph below for a comparison of all EU member states.

Graphic: European Commission – Enterprise and Industry

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