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2018 European Innovation Scoreboard

26 June 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 26 June 2018

The Commission's 2018 European Innovation Scoreboard published today shows that the EU's innovation performance continues to improve, but further efforts are needed to ensure Europe's global competitiveness. Every year, the Commission publishes a comparative assessment of the innovation performance of Member States and benchmarks it with international competitors. The data helps Member States, and the EU as a whole, assess in which areas efforts need to be focused.


What is the European Innovation Scoreboard?

The annual European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) provides a comparative assessment of research and innovation performance of the EU and European countries. It allows policy-makers to assess relative strengths and weaknesses of national research and innovation systems, track progress, and identify priority areas to boost innovation performance. 

The EIS covers the EU Member States as well as Iceland, Israel, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine. For the first time, this year's report also includes some available data for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

On a more limited number of globally available indicators, the EIS compares the EU with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.

What is the latest innovation performance of EU countries?

Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups:

  • Innovation LeadersDenmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom perform 20% or more above the EU average;
  • Strong Innovators – The innovation performance of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, and Slovenia is above or close to the EU average;
  • Moderate Innovators – Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain show an innovation performance below the EU average;
  • Modest Innovators – The innovation performance of Bulgaria and Romania is well below 50% of the EU average.

In this year's edition, Luxembourg (previously a Strong Innovator) joins the group of Innovation Leaders, but Germany (in previous editions classified as an Innovation Leader) drops to the group of Strong Innovators. However, overall performance differences between some Innovation Leaders and the top Strong Innovators are small.

Figure 1: Performance of EU Member States' innovation systems 

The countries that have good overall innovation performance also perform well in most specific areas of innovation. However, some Strong and Moderate Innovators perform well on individual dimensions:

  • Attractive research systemsLuxembourg continues to be the best performing country, followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. These countries are open for cooperation with partners from abroad, researchers are well networked at international level, and the quality of research output is very high.
  • Innovation in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs)Ireland is the leader, followed by Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, and Finland. These countries are characterised by high shares of SMEs with innovative products and business processes. Ireland also leads in the employment impacts of innovation, (followed by the United Kingdom, Malta, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Hungary) and the sales impacts of innovation (followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Slovakia).
  • Innovation linkages and collaborationBelgium is the top performer, followed by the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Denmark. Companies in these countries have more versatile innovation capabilities, as they engage in innovation partnerships with other companies or public-sector organisations. The research systems in these countries are also geared towards meeting the demand from companies, as highlighted by private co-funding of public research.

Have Member States improved their innovation performances?

The EIS 2018 shows improving performance, accelerating progress in Europe and a positive outlook. For the EU as a whole, innovation performance improved by 5.8% between 2010 and 2017. Over this period, overall innovation performance increased in 18 and decreased in 10 Member States. Lithuania, the Netherlands, Malta, the United Kingdom, Latvia, and France improved their innovation performance by more than 10 percentage points since 2010, and also Austria, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden by more than 5 percentage points. 

Over the most recent year, performance improved in 20 Member States, most notably for Spain, Malta, and the Netherlands. 

Figure 2: Change in Member States' innovation performance (2010-2017)

What are the key drivers of innovation?

The most innovative countries perform best on all measures. To achieve a high level of innovation performance, countries need a balanced innovation system performing well across all dimensions. They need an appropriate level of public and private investment in education, research and skills development, effective innovation partnerships among companies and with academia, as well as an innovation-friendly business environment, including strong digital infrastructure, competition on the markets and efficient allocation of resources. As a wider use of strategic public procurement could also further contribute to creating and fostering demand for innovative solutions, the Commission adopted on 15 May 2018 Innovation Public Procurement Guidelines.

In which dimensions has Europe improved and worsened?

For the EU as a whole, progress has been strongest in the dimensions Innovation-friendly environment (notably Broadband penetration), Human resources (notably Doctorate graduates), and Attractive research systems (notably International co-publications). Also firm investments and venture capital expenditures have increased significantly. By contrast, public R&D expenditures as a share of GDP remain below their 2010 level.

Figure 3: EU performance change by dimension and indicator (2010-2017)

How does the EU's performance compare to other countries?

Comparing the EU average to a selection of global competitors, South Korea is the most innovative country performing almost 24 per cent above the performance score of the EU. Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United States also maintain a performance lead over the EU, while the EU has a performance lead over China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and India.

Figure 4: Global performance

Figure 5: Change in global performance

Over the next two years, the EU could catch up with the US, and also narrow its performance gaps towards South Korea and Japan, while China is catching up very fast.

As global competition intensifies, Europe needs to reinforce its efforts to innovate and move towards cleaner and smarter industry to boost its competitiveness and ensure the well-being of its citizens. 

What are the indicators used for the Scoreboard?

The main measurement framework of the EIS 2018 is composed of 27 performance indicators, distinguishing between ten innovation dimensions in four main categories:

  • Framework conditions capture the main drivers of innovation performance and cover three innovation dimensions: human resources, attractive research systems, and innovation-friendly environment.
  • Investments include public and private investment in research and innovation, distinguishing between external finance and support, and own-resource investments.
  • Innovation activities capture the innovation efforts at the company level, covering three dimensions: innovators, linkages, and intellectual assets.
  • Impactsillustrate how innovation translates into benefits for the economy as a whole: employment impacts and sales effects.

Following an in-depth review of indicators for last year's edition, no changes have been made to the performance indicators this year. However, due to data revisions for some indicators, results are not comparable across editions.

While the performance indicators have been kept stable, a systematic review was conducted of the contextual indicators. Based on additional analyses and interactions with stakeholders, contextual indicators were selected to better illustrate possible impacts of structural differences on countries' performance. In this edition, the list comprises a total of 21 indicators on countries' economic structure and performance, business and entrepreneurship, governance and policy framework as well as demography.

A forward-looking section once again explores recent developments and expected changes in innovation performance. Drawing on provisional 'fast-track' data from the 2016 Community Innovation Survey, the Survey on Industrial R&D Investment Trends as well as econometric modelling, the section discusses EU developments on 18 indicators and compares overall trends in EU innovation performance with main competitors.

Methodological details are available in the EIS 2018 Methodology Report.

Press release

2018 European Innovation Scoreboard

Source: European Copmmission