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Innovation: Is the UK getting enough out of it?
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Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg are the EU Member States getting the most out of innovation according to a new indicator proposed by the European Commission that measures innovation output. The UK comes seventh and in the second group of “very good performers” – above the EU average and ahead of countries like France or the United States (the indicator also provides comparison with some non-EU countries).

    Innovation: Is the UK getting enough out of it?

    The indicator was created at the request of EU leaders to benchmark national innovation performance and support policy-makers in removing bottlenecks that prevent innovators from translating ideas into successful products and services.


    Fig.1 The simple composite indicator zooming on innovation output

    Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, responsible for Research, Innovation and Science, said: "The European Union must turn more great ideas into successful products and services in order to lead in the global economy. We also have to close a worrying 'innovation divide'. The proposed indicator will help us measure how we are doing and pinpoint areas where countries need to take action."

    The proposed indicator is based on four components chosen for their policy relevance:

    - Technological innovation as measured by patents.

    - Employment in knowledge-intensive activities as a percentage of total employment.

    - Competitiveness of knowledge-intensive goods and services. This is based on both the contribution of the trade balance of high-tech and medium-tech products to the total trade balance, and knowledge-intensive services as a share of the total services exports.

    - Employment in fast-growing firms of innovative sectors.

    The top performers score well on several or all of the following factors: an economy with a high share of knowledge-intensive sectors, fast-growing innovative firms, high levels of patenting and competitive exports. The UK has a strong position on the two indicators measuring employment in knowledge intensive industries and relative weight of knowledge intensive exports in all services exports. It scores less well on the indicators that measure patents, dynamic innovative firms and the share of hi-tech exports in the overall trade balance of the country.

    At global level, comparison with some non-EU countries shows that the EU as a whole does well. Switzerland and Japan have a clear performance lead, but the EU is more or less even with the United States on innovation output.

    Fig.2 Global comparison


    The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is underpinned by five headline indicators. One of these is to improve the conditions for Research & Development (R&D), with the aim of raising combined public and private investment levels for R&D to 3% of GDP.

    The novelty of the proposed indicator is that it focuses on innovation output. As such, it complements the Commission's Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS) and the Summary Innovation Index (SII) (IP/13/270). They assess the innovation performance of Member States and the EU more widely, against a broad set of 24 innovation indicators including inputs, throughputs and outputs.

    More information:
    Commission Communication "Measuring innovation output in Europe: towards a new indicator "
    Innovation Union Scoreboard


    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.

    Last update: 15/10/2013  |Top