ISSN 2330-717X

European Innovation Scoreboard: Innovation Performance Improving In EU Member States And Regions

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The European Commission released Tuesday the European Innovation Scoreboard 2021, which shows that Europe’s innovation performance continues to improve across the EU. On average, innovation performance has increased by 12.5% since 2014. There is continued convergence within the EU, with lower performing countries growing faster than higher performing ones, therefore closing the innovation gap among them.

According to the 2021 Regional Innovation Scoreboard also published Tuesday, this trend applies to innovation across EU regions. In the global landscape, the EU is performing better than its competitors like China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and India, while South Korea, Canada, Australia, the United States, and Japan have a performance lead over the EU. This year’s European Innovation Scoreboard is based on a revised framework, which includes new indicators on digitalisation and environmental sustainability, bringing the scoreboard more in line with the EU political priorities.

Key findings 

Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups: Innovation leaders, Strong innovators, Moderate innovators and Emerging innovators. 

Sweden continues to be the  EU Innovation Leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and Belgium, all with innovation performance well above the EU average. 

The performance groups tend to be geographically concentrated, with the Innovation Leaders and most Strong Innovators being located in Northern and Western Europe, and most of the Moderate and Emerging Innovators in Southern and Eastern Europe. 

On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 12.5 percentage points since 2014.  Performance has increased the most in Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Italy and Lithuania. 

Five Member States witnessed an improvement in performance of 25 percentage points or more (Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Italy and Lithuania). Four Member States had a performance improvement of between 15 and 25 percentage points (Belgium, Croatia, Finland, and Sweden). For eight Member States, performance improved between 10 and 15 percentage points (Austria, Czechia, Germany, Latvia Malta, Netherlands, Poland and Spain). The remaining 10 Member States witnessed an improvement in performance of up to ten percentage points.

Comparing the EU average to a selection of global competitors, South Korea is the most innovative country, performing 36% above the score of the EU in 2014 and 21% above the EU in 2021. The EU is ahead of China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and India in this year’s EIS, while Canada, Australia, the United States, and Japan have a performance lead over the EU. 

Innovation performance has increased for 225 regions out of the total of 240 regions over the period since 2014. There has been a process of convergence in regional performance over time, with decreasing performance differences between regions. 

The most innovative region in Europe is Stockholm in Sweden, followed by Etelä-Suomi in Finland, and Oberbayern in Germany. Hovedstaden in Denmark is in fourth place, and Zürich in Switzerland is in fifth place. 

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