- Data from January 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2017.
This article discusses the innovativeness of enterprises in the European Union (EU). It provides information on the state of innovation and focuses on some features and key aspects of the development of innovations implemented by enterprises. Innovation forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy for its role in creating job opportunities, making enterprises more competitive in the global market, improving the quality of life and in contributing to a more sustainable growth. Encouraging and stimulating innovation is one of the main objectives of European policies. The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) provides statistics analysed by types of innovators, economic activities and size classes. The survey is currently carried out every two years across the EU, some EFTA countries and some EU candidate countries.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
Extent of innovation
Almost half of all enterprises in the EU-28 reported innovation activity (48.9 %) during the period 2010-12. Compared with the period 2008-10, the share of innovative enterprises decreased by 3.9 percentage points. Among the EU Member States, the highest shares of innovative enterprises during the period 2010–12 were observed in Germany (66.9 % of all enterprises), Luxembourg (66.1 %), Ireland (58.7 %) and Italy (56.1 %) — see Figure 1. The lowest shares were recorded in Bulgaria (27.4 %), Poland (23.0 %) and Romania (20.7 %).
Table 1 provides an analysis of the types of innovation implemented between 2010 and 2012, namely product, process, organisation and marketing innovation. For the EU-28 as a whole, more than one quarter (27.5 %) of enterprises reported organisational innovation. Marketing innovation ranked second, being implemented in 24.3 % of all enterprises. Product innovation (innovation that encompasses new or significantly improved goods or services) was introduced in 23.7 % of enterprises. Relatively few enterprises (21.4 %) implemented process innovations. It is important to note that individual enterprises may have introduced more than one type of innovation.
In general, Member States with high overall shares of innovative enterprises reported higher shares for most types of innovation. In particular, Member States with a high share of product innovative enterprises also reported a high share of with process innovative enterprises, with the notable exception of the United Kingdom. Regarding the specific types of innovation, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg presented the highest shares of product innovative enterprises, all over 30.0 % of all enterprises. A greater share of enterprises implemented process innovation in Portugal, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy, again all in excess of 30.0 %. As regards the introduction of new organisational methods — introducing new practices or methods for organising procedures, external relations or for organising work responsibilities and decision making — the highest shares were reported for enterprises in Luxembourg, Austria, Malta, the United Kingdom and France, all over 34.0 %; the share in Luxembourg was 46.8 %, considerably higher than in any other EU Member State. As concerns marketing innovations, the highest shares of enterprises with such innovations were observed in Greece, Ireland and Germany, all in excess of 34.0 %.
Process innovations were introduced in slightly more than one in five enterprises (21.4 %) across the EU-28 during the period 2010–12. Based on the available data (see Table 2), the most common novelty or improvement among process innovators was related to the methods to manufacture or produce goods and services. Among the EU Member States, Germany, France, Latvia and Lithuania were the leaders in this specific type of process innovation: more than 7 in 10 process innovative enterprises in these Member States reported innovations related to the methods to manufacture or produce goods and services.
New or significantly improved supporting activities for processes, such as maintenance systems or operations for purchasing, accounting, or computing were implemented in nearly three fifths (58.9 %) of the process innovative enterprises across the EU. Less common implementation in the process innovation context was process innovations related to new or significantly improved logistics, delivery or distribution methods for inputs, goods or services, as this was undertaken by just over one third (34.9 %) of the process innovative enterprises in the EU.
Sources of information
Enterprises could be encouraged by their operational environment to innovate, for example in order to meet the needs or requirements of their customers or suppliers. However, enterprises may also decide to undertake innovation activities on their own initiative, as part of development strategies. In this case, information coming from other stakeholders may also arouse interest. Moreover, a concept widely found in discussions on innovation is 'open innovation': open innovation is 'the use of internal and other enterprises' ideas to develop businesses opportunities'. It is considered to be an important component of the foreseen European Innovation System.
In the 2012 data collection exercise, 22 EU Member States provided Eurostat with data on sources of information used by product and / or process innovative enterprises. Based on these data, Figure 2 shows the degree of importance given by enterprises to each type of source: high; medium and low; and not used. It can be seen that information from suppliers of equipment, materials, components or software is widely used among enterprises in the EU as a source of information: 79.6 % of the product and / or process innovative enterprises used information from their suppliers between 2010 and 2012, with one fifth (20.3 %) of the product and / or process innovative enterprises considering this source to be highly important. Figure 3 shows that 89 % or more of product and / or process innovative enterprises used this kind of source in Cyprus, Slovenia, Greece and Romania. The lowest shares were reported by Poland, Germany and Spain with 75 % or less of their enterprises using this type of information source.
The enterprise and enterprise group, and clients or customers from the private sector were the second and third most common sources of information for product and / or process innovation enterprises, both reported by more than 70 % of such enterprises in the EU for the period 2010–12. A relatively large share of product and / or process innovation enterprises considered these two sources of information to be highly important.
Less than two fifths of product and / or process innovative enterprises (37.9 %) in the EU reported having used information from universities or other higher education institutions between 2010 and 2012. However, among the Member States there was a wide range in the shares for this type of source, with more than 60 % of the product and / or process innovative enterprises in Austria and Finland reporting the use of information from universities or other higher education institutes, as was also the case in Norway. The share of product and / or process innovative enterprises using information from the government, public or private research institutes was also relatively low, with less than 3 in 10 (28.4 %) such enterprises in the EU using these sources of information.
Methods for maintaining or increasing the competitiveness for product and process innovations
Data on methods for maintaining or increasing competitiveness have been provided by 21 EU Member States in the 2012 data collection exercise. Based on the data shown in Figure 4, more than 6 in 10 (61.9 %) product and / or process innovative enterprises in the EU used lead time advantage over competitors (in other words, reducing the time lag between the initiation and the implementation of their innovations) to improve their competiveness between 2010 and 2012. Slightly more than one quarter (28.5 %) of these enterprises considered this method as highly important. A similar proportion (60.6 %) of product and / or process innovative enterprises used the complexity of goods or services to maintain or increase their competitiveness. Less than half of these considered this method highly important. These two leading methods (among those surveyed) were closely followed by the use of secrecy, which was used by just over half (51.2 %) of product and / or process innovative enterprises in the EU. Trademarks, patents, copyrights and design registration seemed to be less used by the product and / or process innovative enterprises to maintain or increase competitiveness and a relatively small considered these methods as highly important. However, it should be noticed that the use of these methods is more common for enterprises in certain activities and the extent of their use is also related to enterprise size: for example, larger enterprises make more intensive use of patents.
Innovative and non-innovative enterprises' goals and strategies
Figure 5 presents the goals considered to be highly important by innovative and non-innovative enterprises in the 20 EU Member States for which data are available. An increase in turnover was considered a highly important goal by 60.0 % of innovative enterprises between 2010 and 2012, followed by a decrease in costs (55.4 %) and an increase in profit margins (50.8 %). An increase in the market share was reported as a highly important goal by 41.0 % of innovative enterprises. For non-innovative enterprises, the ranking was quite similar to that for innovative enterprises, with one notable difference: the share of non-innovative enterprises reporting an increase in the turnover as a highly important goal was slightly less than the share reporting a decrease in costs.
Surveyed enterprises were also asked to report strategies according to a certain level of importance. The results shown in Figure 6 cover the 19 EU Member States that provided data for this subject. The intensification or improvement of marketing of goods and services was the strategy most frequently regarded as being highly important between 2010 and 2012, both for innovative and non-innovative enterprises. The next two most common strategies reported as being highly important concerned the development of new markets, either within or outside Europe, both of which were considered highly important by just over one quarter of innovative and non-innovative enterprises in the EU. The strategy of building alliances with other enterprises and institutions was the strategy least often reported as being highly important (among the strategies surveyed), by innovative and non-innovative enterprises.
Data sources and availability
The community innovation survey collects information about product and process innovation, as well as organisational and marketing innovation. The legal basis for collecting 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, 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. Innovations should also at least 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 community innovation survey allows for an analysis of cooperation with national partners, partners from elsewhere in Europe, partners from the United States, China or India, with partners from other countries.
In the 2012 data collection exercise, a particular module focused on the goals of the enterprises and on the strategies they used and the obstacles they faced to reach these goals. The results highlight the differences between innovative and non-innovative enterprises. The available indicators show the number of enterprises reporting, for instance, strong price competition, high costs of access to new markets, or a lack of adequate finance as highly important or not relevant obstacles.
Eurostat has been collecting innovation statistics for many years to meet the needs of policymakers and the scientific community. The statistics provided are closely linked to the EU’s policy activities. Indicators on innovation are a tool for decision making and also help to assess initiatives such as the Innovation Union or the European Research Area (ERA) within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy (the EU's growth strategy). Research and innovation is one of five key targets covered by the strategy; the other four are employment, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction, and climate/energy.
Seven flagship initiatives provide a framework to support the Europe 2020 priorities — they are in the areas of innovation, the digital economy, employment, youth, industrial policy, poverty, and resource efficiency.
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 innovation union 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 innovation union 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
- Patent statistics
- 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)
Methodology / Metadata
- Results of the Community innovation survey 2012 (CIS 2012) (ESMS metadata file — inn_cis8)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- European Commission — Innovation Union — Key documents
- European Innovation Scoreboard 2014 (IUS)
- Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2014 (RIS)
- OECD — Science and innovation — Statistics (feed)
- European Commission — Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
- The Lisbon council — making Europe fit for the future