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Brussels, 14th February 2008

Convergence of innovation performance in the EU

The 2007 European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) published today shows a continued process of convergence within the EU. Five EU Member States - Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom – continue to have a very strong performance as world innovation leaders alongside the US and Japan. Meanwhile, the large majority of other Member States are catching up with the leaders, and three of the newer Member States - Estonia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania - are on track to reach the EU average innovation performance within a decade. The comparison with the US shows that an important overall lead continues to exist over the EU and that the overall positive catching up process visible in particular in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investments, broadband penetration, early stage venture capital and international patenting has recently slowed down.

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: "The continued improvement in innovation performance across the EU is very encouraging and offers further evidence that the Lisbon process and the broad-based innovation strategy are working. But the apparent slowdown in catching up with the US and in particular the increasing gap in public research and development show that reinforced efforts are needed if we are to create more world class innovation in Europe."

The EIS provides an annual assessment of innovation performance across the EU and with other leading innovative nations. The assessment is based on a wide range of indicators covering structural conditions, knowledge creation, innovative efforts by firms, and outputs in terms of new products, services and intellectual property.

The report shows that countries form four relatively stable groupings based on their performance over a five year period:

  • The innovation leaders, with Sweden as the most innovative country, and other countries including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
  • The innovation followers include Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • The moderate innovators include Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Spain and Australia.
  • The catching-up countries include Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. Turkey is currently at a lower level of performance.

For individual summaries of the innovation performance of all 27 Member States see MEMO/08/87.

Convergence within the EU and with the US and Japan

Within the EU, the report demonstrates a strong process of convergence with most of the moderate innovator and catching-up countries improving faster than average.

The comparison with the US shows that the lead over the EU, although still very significant, has been gradually decreasing over the last five years, particularly in the areas of ICT investments, broadband penetration, early stage venture capital and international patenting. However, more negatively, the US is pulling ahead in the areas of public research and development (R&D) expenditure and high technology exports. The gap between the EU and Japanese innovation performance has also decreased, particularly in Science and Engineering graduates and broadband penetration.

Innovation efficiency: transforming knowledge into innovation

For the first time, the report also assesses innovation efficiency and finds that most EU countries could make improvements in transforming knowledge inputs into innovation output. The most efficient performers are Germany and Luxembourg, but all other Member States seem to have significant scope to improve their efficiencies through policies that stimulate the generation of innovative applications and intellectual property. European initiatives such as on lead markets to stimulate demand for innovation (see IP/08/12) and on Intellectual Property are highly relevant in this context.

Chart 1: The 2007 European Innovation Scoreboard: Summary Innovation Index

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Note: The Summary Innovation Index is a composite indicator of 25 measures and can range from 0 (worst performance) to 1 (best performance). Countries in green are innovation leaders; those in yellow are innovation followers; orange are moderate innovators; and blue are catching up countries.

The report will be used by the Commission to help assess progress on the broad based innovation strategy and identify policy priorities.

Background information:

Commissioned by the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, the European Innovation Scoreboard is prepared by the Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) assisted by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
The full report is available at
For more information, see


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