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The Innovation Union Scoreboard: Monitoring the innovation performance of the 27 EU Member States

 What is the Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS)? The Innovation Union Scoreboard 2011 is the second edition of the Scoreboard following the adoption of the Innovation Union Communication in October 2010. The IUS replaces the European Innovation Scoreboard which was published from 2001 to 2009. It provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU27 Member States and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. In this way, it complements the Europe 2020 Annual Growth Survey and helps Member States assess areas in which they need to concentrate to boost their innovation performance. In addition, the Scoreboard covers Croatia, Serbia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. On a more limited number of indicators available internationally it also covers Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the US.


Who are the innovation leaders in the European Union?

A measure for a country's innovation performance is provided by the Summary Innovation Index, a composite indicator obtained by an appropriate aggregation of the IUS indicators (see Section 7.1 for a brief explanation of the calculation methodology and the IUS 2010 Methodology report for a more detailed explanation). Based on the Summary Innovation Index, the Member States fall into the following four country groups (Figure 1):

  • Innovation leaders: Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland, all show a performance well above that of the EU27 average.
  • Innovation followers: Belgium, the UK, Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Cyprus and Estonia all show a performance close to that of the EU27 average.
  • Moderate innovators: The performance of Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Malta Slovakia and Poland is below that of the EU27 average.

Modest innovators: The performance of Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Latvia, and is well below that of the EU27 average.

What are the main conclusions of the 2011 Research and Innovation Union Scoreboard?

The most innovative countries share a number of strengths in their national research and innovation systems with a key role of business activity and public-private collaboration. While there is not one single way to reach top innovation performance, it is clear that all Innovation leaders, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland, perform very well in Business R&D expenditure. Most of the innovation leaders also perform very well in other innovation indicators related to firm activities. Sweden, the most innovative EU Member State, dominates in three innovation dimensions: Human resources, Finance and support, and Firm investments; while Germany and Denmark perform best in two innovation dimensions each.

All of the innovation leaders have higher than average scores in public-private co-publications suggesting good linkages between the science base and enterprises. The most innovative countries also excel in the commercialisation of their technological knowledge, as demonstrated by their good performance on license and patent revenues from abroad.

The overall good performance of the Innovation leaders reflects a balanced national research and innovation system. Both the Innovation leaders as well as the Innovation followers have the smallest variance in their performance across all the 8 innovation dimensions. (Figure 3 – see below)

While each country has its own specificities, policy responses should attempt not only to address relative weaknesses in national research and innovation systems, but also to have more balanced performances across all categories of indicators.

It is evident that the moderate and modest innovators are characterised by unbalanced research and innovation systems. This is particularly clear in the ‘innovators' dimension with very low shares of SMEs introducing product or process innovations as well as SMEs introducing marketing and organisational innovations. At the same time, the growth rates of most of the modest and moderate innovators are the highest among the EU27 which indicates a convergence process with Bulgaria as a catching-up leader, followed by and Estonia.

Is there convergence in innovation performance within the EU?

The growth in innovation performance has been calculated for each country and for the EU27 using data over a five-year period. All countries except Luxembourg and the UK show an absolute improvement in their innovation performance over time. On average countries starting with a lower performance level have experienced a faster increase in their performance indicating that between the Member States there is convergence in innovation performance.  (Figure 4)

How does the EU fare in comparison to its international partners?

A comparison with other European countries shows that Switzerland is the overall Innovation leader continuously outperforming all EU27 Member States. Iceland is part of the Innovation followers, Croatia, Norway and Serbia of the Moderate innovators and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey of the Modest innovators (Figure 2 – see below).

Comparing the EU27 with a group of major global competitors shows that the US, Japan and South Korea have a performance lead over the EU27 (figure 5 – see below). This lead has been increasing for South Korea, has remained stable for the US and has been decreasing for Japan. The global innovation leaders US and Japan are particularly dominating the EU27 in indicators capturing business activity and public-private cooperation: ‘R&D expenditure in the business sector', ‘Public-private co-publications', ‘License and patent revenues from abroad' and ‘PCT patent applications'. South Korea which is increasingly outperforming the EU27 is again having its biggest lead in R&D expenditures in the business sector. The US is also clearly dominating the EU in the production of high-impact scientific publications.

The EU27 has a performance lead over Australia, Canada and all BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, figure 5 – see below). This lead has been increasing compared to Canada, Russia and South Africa, has remained stable to Australia and has been decreasing to Brazil and in particular to China and India. China has been closing the innovation gap to Europe continuously in the last few years.

What are the innovation profiles of individual countries?

Malta is one of the moderate innovators with a below average performance.

Relative strengths are in Intellectual assets and economic effects. Relative weaknesses are in human resources, open, excellent and attractive research systems, finance and support, linkages & entrepreneurship and Innovators.

High growth is observed for new doctorate graduates, International scientific co-publications, community trademarks and knowledge-intensive services exports. A strong decline is observed for public-private co-publications and license and patent revenues from abroad. Growth performance in human resources, open, excellent and attractive research systems, Intellectual assets and Innovators is well above average.

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