11.05.2015 [News]

Innovation Scoreboard 2015 – Scandinavian countries and Germany innovation leaders in Europe

For the EU at large innovation performance has been stalling in the last year. The impact of the economic crisis has become visible or several Member states which showed a decreasing innovation performance compared to last year.


Last year's edition showed that there were positive signs as the innovation performance improved and the catching up process of less innovative countries resumed after it had reversed two years ago. This year’s edition shows a mixed picture, with 13 Member States presenting a declining innovation performance and 15 Member States improving their performance compared to last year. However, differences are becoming smaller between the different Member States: innovation performance has continued to converge in 2014 following the trend resumed last year.

The measurement framework used in the Innovation Union Scoreboard distinguishes between 3 main types of indicators and 8 innovation dimensions, capturing in total 25 different indicators.

The Enablers capture the main drivers of innovation performance external to the firm and cover 3 innovation dimensions: Human resources, Open, excellent and attractive research systems as well as Finance and support. Firm activities capture the innovation efforts at the level of the firm, grouped in 3 innovation dimensions: Firm investments, Linkages & entrepreneurship and Intellectual assets. outputs cover the effects of firms’ innovation activities in 2 innovation dimensions: Innovators and Economic effects.

Based on the average innovation performance, the Member States fall into four different performance groups:

  • Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden are “Innovation leaders” with innovation performance well above that of the EU average;
  • Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK are “Innovation followers” with innovation performance above or close to that of the EU average;
  • The performance of Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain is below that of the EU average. These countries are “Moderate innovators”;
  • Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania are “Modest innovators” with innovation performance well below that of the EU average.

Sweden has once more the best performing innovation system in the EU, followed by Denmark, Finland and Germany. Overall, the performance group memberships have remained relatively stable compared to the previous IUS edition, with Cyprus and Estonia being the only countries that changed group membership, in their case changing from the Innovation followers to the Moderate innovators.

As each year, there are several upward and downward movements inside each of the performance groups. Finland and Germany switched ranks within the Innovation leaders.

Within the Innovation followers, the Netherlands replaced Luxembourg as the top performer, UK and Ireland moved ahead of Belgium, and Austria and France switched ranks.

Within the Moderate innovators, Estonia is the top performer followed by the Czech Republic that has overtaken Italy and Cyprus. Malta has improved several rank positions and both Greece and Spain have dropped two rank positions whereas Lithuania and Poland have switched ranks.

Within the Modest innovators, Latvia replaced Romania as top performer and ranks very close to the upper group.

The most innovative countries perform best on all dimensions: from research and innovation inputs, through business innovation activities up to innovation outputs and economic effects, which reflects a balanced national research and innovation system. The Innovation leaders show the smallest variance in their performance across all eight innovation
dimensions: across all dimensions the performance of the Innovation leaders, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland, is thus not too different. The Innovation leaders are also mostly on top and clearly above the EU average.

Only in the second dimension Open, excellent and attractive research system, Germany scores slightly below the EU average and in the eighth dimension Economic effects Finland and Sweden score just below the EU average.

However, some other countries reach top scores when looking at individual dimensions. Sweden, Ireland, Finland and United Kingdom score best in Human resources; Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark reach top positions in Open, excellent and attractive research systems; Estonia, Denmark, Finland and Sweden perform best in Finance and support; Germany, Sweden, Estonia and Finland are the best performers in Firm investments; Belgium, United Kingdom and Denmark are top performers in Linkages and entrepreneurship; Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany reach top positions in Intellectual assets; Ireland, Luxembourg and Germany are the best performers in the Innovators dimension; and Ireland, Denmark and Luxembourg reach the highest results in Economic effects.

Download the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2015

Source and further information: European Commission