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Commission report highlights Europe's innovation emergency, UK needs to focus on R&D investment
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Europe needs to accelerate investment in research and innovation if it wants to meet its targets for smart sustainable growth. This is one of the key findings of a European Commission report that analyses the strengths and weaknesses of national research and innovation systems.  The report - the Innovation Union Competitiveness Report – covers all 27 Member States and six Associated countries. Its findings show that for the first time Europe has broken the 2 percent barrier of R&D investment as percentage of GDP, but the gap with other leading economies is still widening.

The report shows that the UK outperforms the EU average on many areas of excellence, but lags behind in public and private R&D investment.

"This Report underlines that the road to the Innovation Union is long and challenging, with big obstacles along the way. But it confirms that the EU has agreed the right policies to get to the end of that road. Putting the Innovation Union into practice at European and national levels is an economic 'must', as important for sustainable growth as sorting out public finances," said European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

    Commission report highlights Europe's innovation emergency, UK needs to focus on R&D investment

    The UK outperforms both the EU average and a group of similar countries and nears the United States in a range of indicators such as high quality publications, high quality patents and high share of the population engaged in knowledge intensive activities. On the other hand, the system underperforms in terms of public and private R&D investment and technological performance as measured by the importance of patents in the economy. The report notes that this underinvestment could potentially affect the UK's future scientific and technological competitiveness.

     More statistics and tables on the UK performance

    The report also shows that the UK is a key actor in scientific cooperation at European level. It ranks second in the number of applicants and requested contribution under the main EU research funding instrument (the FP 7 programme) and sixth in success rate of both applications and amount of funding received. The priority areas of interest for UK applicants are information and communication technologies, Marie Curie actions, health and research for the benefit of SMEs. The most active organisations are Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Imperial College, UCL and the University of Edinburgh.

    Key findings of the report at European level:

    The EU's innovation performance needs major improvements in many areas if the Europe 2020 strategy is to deliver smart sustainable growth: more and "smarter" investment in both public and private research and development; more research cooperation within the EU and internationally, along with better use of research results, including through a stronger intellectual property regime; education systems adapted to business innovation needs; innovative and fast-growing SME's. A concerted effort is necessary to build on Europe's promising record in innovation tackling global challenges such as climate change. The gender gap in science and research must be closed.


    This is the first edition of the Innovation Union Competitiveness report. It will be published every two years and will contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy by providing an in-depth statistical and economic analysis covering the main features of an efficient research and innovation system. The report is based on 200 indicators analysing the reasons for, and solutions to, the gaps found in the Innovation Union Scoreboard. It responds to the following two key questions: What are the causes of and remedies for inadequate performance? What strategies can help us reach the objectives?

    The Innovation Union Competitiveness report is complementary to the other main EU assessment of research and innovation performance - The Innovation Union Scoreboard (IP/11/114). The Scoreboard was published in February 2011 and provides a comparative benchmarking of EU and Member State performance against 25 core research and innovation indicators. It showed that the EU is failing to close the innovation performance gap with its main international competitors: the US and Japan.

    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 09/06/2011  |Top