- Data from March 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2019.
This article discusses the innovativeness of enterprises in the European Union (EU). It provides information on the state of innovation and focuses on some key features concerning the development of innovations implemented by enterprises. Innovation forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy due to its role in creating job opportunities, increasing the competitiveness of enterprises in global markets, improving the quality of life and contributing to more sustainable economic growth. Indeed, EU policies often focus on encouraging and stimulating innovation. The Community innovation survey (CIS) provides statistics analysed by type of innovators, economic activity and enterprise size class. The survey is carried out every two years across the EU, some EFTA countries and some EU candidate countries and focuses on innovative activity during a three-year period (2012–2014 for the most recent results of the survey).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
Innovation in SME’s and in large enterprises
Almost half of all the enterprises in the EU-28 reported some form of innovation activity (49.1 %) during the period 2012–2014. Compared with the period 2010–2012, the share of innovative enterprises remained relatively stable (rising by 0.2 percentage points). Figure 1 provides an analysis of the types of innovation implemented by enterprises across the EU-28 between 2012 and 2014, namely product, process, organisational and marketing innovation; the information is presented for all enterprises (with 10 or more employees), for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, with 10–249 employees) and for large enterprises (with 250 or more employees).
In the EU-28, more than one quarter (27.3 %) of all enterprises reported organisational innovation during the period 2012–2014. The second most common type of innovation concerned product innovation (innovation that encompasses new or significantly improved goods or services), which took place in 23.9 % of all enterprises, followed by marketing innovation (22.8 %) and process innovation (21.6 %). It is important to note that individual enterprises may have introduced more than one of these types of innovation.
Among the EU Member States, the highest proportions of innovative enterprises during the period 2012–2014 were observed in Germany (67.0 % of all enterprises), Luxembourg (65.1 %) and Belgium (64.2 %), while Ireland and the United Kingdom also recorded proportions that were above 60.0 %. The lowest levels of innovative activity were recorded in Poland (21.0 %) and Romania (12.8 %), while just over one quarter of all enterprises in Hungary, Latvia and Bulgaria reported some form of innovative activity.
An analysis based on enterprise size reflects, to some degree, the distribution of the total population of enterprises as the vast majority are SMEs; indeed, there was almost no difference in the share of innovative enterprises among the SME population compared with the total population. By contrast, there was a different pattern for large enterprises as, on average, these were more likely to have introduced innovations than SMEs; this observation held consistently across all four types of innovation. Almost 8 in 10 (78.1 %) large enterprises in the EU-28 were innovative during the period 2012–2014. Slightly more than the half of all large enterprises introduced an organisational (52.9 %) or a product innovation (50.9 %), a somewhat smaller share of large enterprises introduced a process innovation (48.9 %), while marketing innovations were implemented by around 4 in 10 (40.2 %) large enterprises.
Product innovation and novelty
As noted above, product innovation requires an enterprise to have introduced a new or a significantly improved product. A distinction may be made between those product innovations that are new to the market or those which are new only to the innovating enterprise.
Within the EU-28, almost one quarter (23.9 %) of enterprises were product innovators during the period 2012–2014 (see Figure 2). The highest shares of product innovators (in the total number of enterprises) were recorded in Ireland (35.7 %), Finland (34.5 %) and Germany (34.4 %), while the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Austria also recorded share that were in excess of 30.0 %. By contrast, share of less than 10.0 % were recorded in Poland (9.5 %), Latvia (8.5 %) and Romania (3.6 %).
During the period 2012–2014, more than one fifth of all enterprises in Finland, Austria, Belgium and Ireland were product innovators with goods or services that were new to the market. There were 11 EU Member States where less than one tenth of all enterprises introduced product innovations that were new to the market, with the lowest shares in Romania (1.3 %) and Estonia (1.1 %). As regards product innovations that were new to the enterprise, the highest shares were recorded in Germany (21.1 %) and the United Kingdom (16.0 %), while more than half (15) of the Member States reported that less than 10.0 % of their total enterprise population had introduced a product innovation new to the enterprise, the lowest shares being recorded in Romania (2.3 %) and Latvia (2.2 %).
Largest market and innovation
There were 22 EU Member States which provided information to Eurostat concerning the largest markets for innovative and non-innovative enterprises during the period 2012–2014. An EU average based on these partial results shows that the share of innovative enterprises became progressively higher as enterprises became more international (see Figure 3). Broadly speaking, the further away the location of the main market the more inclined enterprises were to implement innovations.
Among enterprises whose largest market was local or regional, around two fifths (39.9 %) were innovative. This share rose to more than half for those enterprises whose largest market was either national (54.9 %) or European (51.6 %), and peaked at almost three quarters (66.9 %) for those enterprises whose main market was international and outside Europe.
This pattern was repeated in a majority of those EU Member States for which a full set of data are available (see Figure 4), with the only exceptions being recorded in Malta and Lithuania (where the highest share of innovative enterprises was recorded among enterprises whose largest market was European) and Greece, Latvia, Estonia and Romania (where the highest share of innovative enterprises was recorded among enterprises whose largest market was national).
Non-innovative enterprises were surveyed to gather information regarding why some enterprises do not innovate. The analysis shows whether non-innovators refrained from innovating on a voluntary basis (they did not feel the need to innovate) or whether they were prevented from innovating as a result of various barriers to innovation. When asked why they did not innovate, some 16.7 % of non-innovative enterprises in 2012–2014 reported that they considered innovating but that the barriers to innovation were too large, the vast majority (83.0 %) of the remaining non-innovative enterprises stated that they simply did not have any compelling reason to innovate. These shares as well as the data presented in Figure 5 are averages based on information provided by 19 of the EU Member States.
The more detailed analysis presented in Figure 5 provides information pertaining to some of the reasons why non-innovative enterprises did not consider innovating. Around one in six (15.4 %) non-innovative enterprises in the EU stated that there was a low level of market demand for innovations and that this reason carried a high degree of importance in deterring them from innovative activity during the period 2012–2014, while 52.9 % gave this reason a medium or low degree of importance (a total of 68.3 %). Relatively high shares of non-innovative enterprises also stated that they gave at least some importance to a range of other factors that prevented them from considering innovating: 63.0 % that there was a low level of market competition (5.1 % giving this reason a high degree of importance); 61.3 % stated that previous innovations deterred them (9.8 % gave this reason a high degree of importance); and 56.8 % cited a lack of ideas (6.7% giving this reason a high degree of importance).
In the EU Member States, a low level of market demand was generally cited as the most highly important reason deterring enterprises from innovative activity (see Figure 6); in Italy, Cyprus and Greece this reason was considered highly important for preventing innovation by more than a quarter of non-innovative enterprises in 2012–2014. Latvia and Poland were the only Member States (among those for which data are available) to report a higher share of enterprises citing an alternative; in both cases, the most common reason considered to be highly important for preventing innovative activity was a lack of good ideas.
Innovation with environmental benefits
Figure 7 presents information pertaining to environmental benefits that accrue as a result of innovations; the information is split between benefits that are enjoyed within those enterprises introducing innovations and benefits that are enjoyed by end-users as they consume/use goods and services. The information covers results for 22 of the EU Member States during the period 2012–2014.
More than half (52.7 %) of all innovative enterprises reported that their innovations had environmental benefits (irrespective of whether these were within the enterprise or when goods and services were consumed/used by end-users). Almost half (48.2 %) of innovative enterprises in the EU introduced innovations from which there were environmental benefits within the enterprise, whereas somewhat less than one third (30.3 %) of innovative enterprises introduced innovations from which environmental benefits were related to their consumption or use.
In 8 of the 22 EU Member States for which data are available, more than half of all innovative enterprises reported that their innovations had environmental benefits, with this share rising above 60 % in Slovenia, Portugal and Germany. In keeping with the broad developments witnessed at an EU level, a higher proportion of innovative enterprises introduced innovations from which there were environmental benefits within the enterprise when compared with the share that introduced innovations from which environmental benefits were related to their consumption or use (see Figure 8). This was particularly the case in Italy, where the share of innovative enterprises introducing innovations from which there were environmental benefits within the enterprise was 2.8 times as high as that for benefits related to the consumption or use.
At a more detailed level, the most common environmental benefit that accrued within innovating enterprises was a reduction in their energy use or their carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint; this was reported by almost one third of innovative enterprises (32.3 %). Around one fifth to one quarter of innovative enterprises: recycled waste, water, or materials for their own use or sale (20.6 %), reduced air, water, noise or soil pollution (24.7 %), or reduced their material or water use per unit of output (25.7 %); somewhat lower shares were recorded for innovating enterprises that replaced a share of materials with less polluting or hazardous substitutes (18.4 %) or those who replaced a share of fossil energy with renewable energy sources (12.9 %).
The lower part of Figure 7 provides more information pertaining to environmental benefits at the time of consumption or use by end-users. In 2012–2014, almost one quarter (24.5 %) of innovating enterprises in the EU stated that there were environmental benefits that were related to reduced energy use or a reduction in the carbon footprint at the time of consumption or use of their products as a result of the introduction of innovations. The results for the three remaining environmental benefits were broadly similar, as between 15.6 % and 17.6 % of EU innovative enterprises reported the introduction of innovative changes that provided the following benefits at the time of consumption or use: facilitated the recycling of products after their use; extended product life through the use of more durable products; reduced air, water, noise or soil pollution.
Data sources and availability
The Community innovation survey (CIS) collects information about product and process innovation, as well as organisational and marketing innovation. The legal basis for the collection of these statistics is Regulation 995/2012 implementing Decision 1608/2003/EC concerning the production and development of Community statistics on innovation. Innovations are based on: the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process; a new marketing method; or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.
Such innovations may be developed by the innovating enterprise itself (alone or together with other enterprises), by another enterprise, or by adapting or modifying processes originally developed by other enterprises or institutions; the simple resale of new goods and services purchased from other enterprises is not considered innovation. As such, in order to quality as an innovation, any change needs to be new to the enterprise concerned.
In some cases, innovative enterprises may cooperate with other parties and the cooperation partners may be located in other countries or on other continents. Information collected within the CIS allows for an analysis of cooperation with national partners, partners from elsewhere in Europe, partners from the United States, China and India, or partners from other countries.
The 2014 data collection exercise featured a special module that focused on innovations with environmental benefits. The results highlight the types of environmental benefit that may be obtained through innovation and which types of innovation (product, process, organisation or marketing innovation) generate these environmental benefits; the module also included questions designed to obtain information relating to the main factors driving enterprise decision-making within this area.
Eurostat has been collecting innovation statistics for many years to meet the needs of policymakers and the scientific community. The statistics collected within this domain are closely linked to the EU’s policy activities. Indeed, innovation indicators are used as a tool for decision-making and also to help assess initiatives such as the Innovation Union or the European Research Area (ERA) within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy.
The Innovation Union has three objectives, namely, to:
- make Europe into a world-class science performer;
- remove obstacles to innovation — such as expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard-setting and skills shortages — that currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market; and
- revolutionise the way public and private sectors work together, not least through innovation partnerships between the European institutions, national and regional authorities and business.
In this context, the Innovation Union includes over thirty action points. The partnership on active and healthy ageing provides an illustration of one of these action points, with the target to ‘add an average of two years of healthy life for everyone in Europe’. Another example of an action point targets stimulating innovation in Europe by enhancing access to finance for innovative companies.
The European innovation scoreboard is a tool for assessing innovation performance in EU Member States and highlighting the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems; it also helps in monitoring the Innovation Union's implementation. The European innovation scoreboard is based on three types of indicators and eight innovation dimensions. The community innovation survey provides six of the 25 indicators available in the scoreboard.
- High-tech statistics - economic data
- High-tech statistics - employment
- R & D expenditure
- R & D personnel
Further Eurostat information
- Science and technology, see:
- Community innovation survey (t_inn)
- Turnover from innovation (tsdec340)
- Science and technology, see:
- Community innovation survey (inn)
- Results of the first community innovation light survey - CIS light (inn_cisl)
- Results of the second community innovation survey (CIS2) (inn_cis2)
- Results of the third community innovation survey (CIS3) (inn_cis3)
- Results of the fourth community innovation survey (CIS4) (inn_cis4)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2006 (CIS2006) (inn_cis5)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2008 (CIS2008) (inn_cis6)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2010 (CIS2010) (inn_cis7)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2012 (CIS2012) (inn_cis8)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2014 (CIS2014) (inn_cis9)
Methodology / Metadata
- Results of the Community innovation survey 2014 (CIS 2014) (ESMS metadata file — inn_cis9)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- European Commission — Innovation Union — Key documents
- European Innovation Scoreboard 2016 (EIS)
- Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2016 (RIS)
- OECD — Innovation
- European Commission — Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
- The Lisbon council — making Europe fit for the future