RESEARCH AND INNOVATION : SCOREBOAD SHOWS MEMBER STATES MORE INNOVATIVE.
Whereas last year's Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS) revealed the negative effects of the economic crisis on the innovation performance of member states, the 2014 report, published on 4 March, shows that the impact of the crisis is not "as severe as expected". Th innovation performance of the EU countries has improved, and there are signs that the differences among member states are diminishing.
The scoreboard shows that the annual average growth rate of innovation performance has increased by 0.1%. This figure should, however, be put in perspective, as the Commission modified its methodology for its latest report. To take the effects of the crisis into account, average performance has been calculated over a period of eight years instead of five, as was previously the case. Thus, between 2006 and 2013, the average growth rate of EU innovation performance was 1.7%, compared to 1.6% for the period 2008-2012.
Overall, the results show that innovation activities are stable in all member states. Sweden remains the best performing country in the EU, followed by Denmark, Germany and Finland. These countries perform well in all 25 indicators used for the study, a Commission official explained. They succeed in keeping the balance between the enabling factors, such as human resources management and financial support, and the outputs, ie economic effects of innovative activities. At the other end of the ranking, Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria remain the least performing member states in terms of innovation. "The divide is diminishing, but not as fast as the economy would need," commented Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. "Worrying gaps remain at regional level. There is a lot more to do."
In terms of innovation growth, the report shows that all member states have improved their performance. Portugal, Estonia and Latvia top the ranking, with rates ranging from 3.5% to 3.9%. Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, insisted on this point: "The analysis of the results should not only focus on the ranking. It is more important to make progress than to be the overall leader. In fact, the best performing countries are not innovating as much as before". Indeed, Sweden, the best performer, records the lowest growth rate (0.3%), followed by the UK (0.5%) and Croatia (0.8%).
Compared with the previous editions of the scoreboard, the indicators concerning convergence between member states showed positive results: after growing steadily until 2011, the convergence level in innovation performance had substantially reversed in 2012. In 2013, the level of convergence increased again, going back to its 2009 level. In a global context, in terms of performance, the EU still lags behind South Korea, the US and Japan, but outperforms Australia, Canada and all BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China).
Next to the IUS, the Commission also published the 2014 Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS), which reveals that more marked inequalities persist at regional level.
The IUS is available at ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/files/ius/ius-2014_en.pdf and the RIS at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/files/ris/ris-2014_en.pdf