28.03.2013 [News]

Scoreboard shows EU more innovative, but gap between countries widening

Innovation performance in the EU has improved year on year in spite of the continuing economic crisis, but the innovation divide between Member States is widening. This is the result of the European Commission Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013, a ranking of EU Member States. While the most innovative countries have further improved their performance, others have shown a lack of progress.

The overall ranking within the EU remains relatively stable, with Sweden at the top, followed by Germany, Denmark and Finland. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are the countries that have most improved since last year. Drivers of innovation growth in the EU include SMEs and the commercialisation of innovations, together with excellent research systems. However the fall in business and venture capital investment over the years 2008-2012 has negatively influenced innovation performance.

The European Commission has also published a report complementary to the Scoreboard. The State of the Innovation Union report shows that the Commission has already largely delivered on the Innovation Union flagship commitments.


The Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013 places Member States into the following four country groups:
  • Innovation leaders: Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Finland, all show a performance well above that of the EU average.
  • Innovation followers: Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, the UK, Austria, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Cyprus and Estonia all perform above the EU average.
  • Moderate innovators: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Malta and Lithuania perform below the EU average.
  • Modest innovators: The performance of Poland, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria is well below that of the EU average.

What makes innovation leaders successful?

The most innovative countries in the EU share a number of strengths in their national research and innovation systems, including a key role for business innovation efforts and those of the higher education sector. The business sectors of all innovation leaders perform very well in research & development (R&D) expenditure and patent applications. They also share a well-developed higher education sector and strong linkages between industry and science.

International comparisons with the EU

A comparison with other European countries confirms Switzerland's position as the overall innovation leader that continually outperforms all EU countries. This year's results also again show that South Korea, the US, and Japan have a performance lead over the EU.

South Korea's lead over the EU is increasing, but since 2008 the EU has been able to close almost half its gap with the US and Japan. The EU still lags considerably behind the global leaders notably in terms of business R&D expenditures, public-private co-publications, and patents, as well as in tertiary education. The EU continues to perform better than Australia, Canada, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.


Source and further information: European Union