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European Innovation Scoreboard: improvements to be continued

The European Commission published on 20th June the 2017 EU Innovation Scoreboard. It shows continued improvement but uneven progress across Europe. It provides interesting benchmarking information for and about countries and regions.


The European Innovation Scoreboard has been published every year since 2007 and provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU countries and selected third countries.

The Scoreboard provides a ranking of countries through a “summary innovation index”. The top EU innovation leader is again Sweden followed by Denmark and Finland. However Switzerland has confirmed its position as overall innovation leader in Europe.

Belgium occupies the 9th place and is classified as “strong innovator” above or close to EU average. Its performance has increased by 1.4% relative to that of the EU in 2010. But it is identified as leading for innovation linkages and collaboration, meaning that companies “have more versatile innovation capabilities, as they engage in innovation partnerships with other companies or public-sector organisations”. According to the European Commission, the relative strengths of the Belgian innovation system are in attractive research systems, linkages and firms investments. As relative weaknesses, the Commission points out at employment impacts, sales impacts and intellectual assets.

Other EU leaders in selected areas of innovation are:

- Denmark for human resources and innovation-friendly environment;

- Luxembourg for attractive research systems and intellectual assets;

- Finland for finance and support;

- Germany for firm investment;

- Ireland for innovation in SMEs and employment impacts;

- and the United Kingdom for sales effect.

“In a global comparison, the EU is catching up with Canada and the US, but South Korea and Japan are pulling ahead. China shows the fastest progress among international competitors.”

infographic EU innovation scoreboard 2017

Credits: European Commission

Other positive news of the report are that:

- “EU innovation performance continues to increase, especially due to improvements in human resources, the innovation-friendly environment, own-resource investments, and attractive research systems.”

- Biggest progresses have been done in “international co-publications, broadband penetration, the number of university graduates and doctorates, and ICT training.”

- “Over the next two years, innovation performance is expected to increase by 2%.”

But the report also points out the following weaknesses:

-  “EU performance has decreased in the dimensions finance and support (notably due to a strong decline in venture capital investments), innovation in SMEs (innovators) and linkages. “

- Adult lifelong learning is stagnating, although it is key to empower citizens to evolve and innovate in a fast-pace changing environment.

- Innovation performance increased in 15 EU countries but decreased in 13 member States. This uneven progress is considered preoccupying by the European Commission.

- The Commission concludes “Europe still lacks the market-creating innovation which is needed to turn the best ideas into new businesses and high-quality jobs.

And what about the Brussels Capital Region? Actually the report is also completed by the Regional Innovation Scoreboard.

infographic Regional innovation scoreboard 2017

Credits: European Commission

Without surprise, “most regional innovation leaders are located in countries identified as innovation leaders in the European Innovation Scoreboard.” “The most innovative region in the EU is Stockholm in Sweden, followed by Hovedstaden in Denmark, and the South East in the United Kingdom. The overall most innovative region in Europe is Zϋrich in Switzerland.”

“However, regional 'pockets of excellence' can be identified in some moderate innovator countries, for instance, Prague in the Czech Republic, Bratislava in Slovakia, and the Basque Country in Spain.”

The Brussels Capital Region is classified as a “Strong + innovator” with an increased performance by 1.2%. Relative weakness compared to the EU and Belgium are design application, business R&D expenditures and patent applications to the European Patent Office. Relative strengths compared to the EU are international scientific co-publications, public-private co-publications and innovative SMEs collaborating.

This last point is a good news for Enterprise Europe Brussels!

More information

- European Innovation Scoreboard

- European Innovation Scoreboard 2017 – Main report

- Belgium Country Profile

- Regional Innovation Scoreboard

- Belgium Regional Country Profile with information about the Brussels Capital Region.




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