Navigation path

Innovative Europe – a health check - 08/02/2012

Workers passing through walls with EU stars © EU

EU makes progress, but growth slowing. This trend highlights the need to increase efforts if Europe’s economy is to maintain global competitiveness.

Almost all EU countries have become better at fostering innovation, according to an annual research and innovation scoreboard .

But progress is slowing – and the EU still has not closed its innovation gap with international leaders the US, Japan and South Korea. On top of that, emerging economies such as China, Brazil, and India have been catching up over the past 5 years.

The scoreboard makes clear that the EU will have to increase efforts to stimulate and speed up innovation if it is to boost – let alone maintain – its competitiveness.

That’s why innovation – and removing bottlenecks that prevent good ideas from reaching the market – is at the heart of the EU’s 2020 growth and jobs strategy.

The scoreboard compares countries based on research and development (R&D) investment levels – a key performance indicator – along with 23 other factors.

Ingredients for innovation

The EU's innovation leaders are Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland. The 4 countries tend to have:

  • above-average R&D expenditure, especially in the business sector
  • higher investment in skills and finance
  • strong national research and innovation systems with a key role for partnerships between public and private sectors
  • better results in turning technological knowledge into products and services.

The scoreboard compares countries’ performances in these areas and others considered as key to stimulating innovation.

The UK for example has above-average innovation levels. Its strengths rest on its workers’ skills, and on excellent research systems, among other factors.

Innovation Union

The scoreboard is part of the EU's strategy to create an “innovation union”, where entrepreneurs find the support they need to turn their ideas into commercial products and services.

The approach includes promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors, facilitating access to funding and skilled workers, reducing red tape and lowering the cost of patenting new ideas.

The first partnership – launched last year – aims to encourage new products and services that can help active and healthy ageing.

More on innovation in the EU

Choose high-contrast version Set page to normal font size Increase font size by 200 percent send this page to a friend print this page


Find what you wanted?

Yes No

What were you looking for?

Any suggestions?

Useful links