ISSN 2330-717X

European Innovation Scoreboard 2020: EU Surpasses US, Again


The Commission released Tuesday the European Innovation Scoreboard 2020, which shows that Europe’s innovation performance continues to improve across the EU, surpassing for the second year the United States. However, more needs to be done to catch up with global innovation leaders like South Korea, Australia and Japan. The results, which cover data from 2019, highlight the opportunities to better coordinate EU innovation policies, help Europe improve its global competitiveness and strengthen the key role innovation plays in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Innovation Scoreboard demonstrates the EU’s and Member States commitment towards research and innovation. It also supports the development of policies to enhance innovation in Europe and inform policy makers in a rapidly changing evolving global context.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “This year’s scoreboard shows that the EU is already a good place to do innovation, but we need to further step up efforts across the EU to find global solutions to contain the virus, and at the same time, help Europe’s recovery from the crisis. More than ever, innovation is important since it lies at the heart of our efforts to beat the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The EU is leading the way out of the coronavirus crisis by intensifying its support to research efforts and bringing together diverse players of the innovation ecosystems, from both the public and private sector, that can transform new ideas into reality and improve the life of citizens. Post-covid EU will be stronger and more united than ever before leveraging its creativity and innovation performance as this year’s Scoreboard highlights”.

Key findings

Within the EU, innovation performance continues to increase at a steady pace. Since a few years, the performance among Member States has been converging, a trend that is growing.

This year’s Scoreboard is marked by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. This has had a small impact on the EU’s average innovation performance, but has not affected the relative performance of Member States in relation to EU’s global performance.

Sweden continues to be the EU Innovation Leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. This year Luxembourg (previously a Strong Innovator) joins the group of Innovation Leaders, while Portugal (previously a Moderate Innovator) joins the group of Strong Innovators.

On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.9% since 2012. Since 2012, innovation performance increased in 24 EU countries. Performance has increased the most in Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Greece.

At the global level, the EU has for the second year surpassed the United States. The EU continues to have a performance lead over the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and India. Since 2012, the EU’s performance gap with South Korea, Australia and Japan has increased, while the EU’s performance lead over the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa has decreased. China has had the largest innovation performance growth rate amongst the EU’s main competitors since 2012, growing at more than five times that of the EU

In selected areas of innovation, the EU leaders are: Sweden– human resources; Luxembourg – attractive research systems; intellectual assets; Denmark – innovation-friendly environment; finance and support; Germany– firm investment; Portugal –innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises; Austria – linkages and collaboration; Ireland– employment impacts and sales impacts.

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