Candidate country innovativeness still lagging behind EU 15, concludes report

September 2, 2003

Brussels, 01 Sep 2003

A report carried out at the request of the Commission's Enterprise DG has concluded that innovation capabilities in the candidate countries still lag behind those within the 15 current Member States.

Perhaps more worryingly, the report also identifies trends that suggest that, far from closing the gap with the EU15, the majority of candidate countries are actually falling further behind in terms of innovativeness.

The report, entitled 'innovation policy in seven candidate countries: the challenges', focuses on conditions in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Turkey. It is targeted towards policy makers, enterprises and researchers within the EU and applicant countries, and provides some suggestions for policy approaches in each of the countries aimed at promoting innovation levels.

In the study's conclusion, the seven countries' results on the innovation scoreboard are compared with those of the existing Member States. On average, the candidate countries are behind in each of the four groups of indicators that make up the scoreboard: human resources; knowledge creation; transmission and application of knowledge; and innovation finance, output and markets.

The worst area of comparison for candidate countries is in the creation of new knowledge, which the report's authors claim is the result of 'negligible participation in world frontier technology generation', particularly US and EPO patents. In the areas of human resources for innovation and transmission and application of knowledge, the lag of the candidate countries is less pronounced, the study states.

In conclusion, the report acknowledges the efforts made in the candidate countries over the past decade to move towards a market economy, but suggests that: 'The policy task for the next decade seems equally, if not more complex.'

In terms of general policy approaches, in the case of Bulgaria, the report suggests that measures be introduced to increase the number and innovativeness of smaller enterprises by, for example, creating seed and venture capital funds linked to centres of research excellence.

In Turkey, the report proposes the design and implementation of a national campaign to raise awareness of innovation and innovative entrepreneurship by the beginning of 2004, with an emphasis on encouraging firms to invest in innovation in order to gain competitive advantage. To read the seven country reports and overall conclusions, please visit: http://www.cordis.lu/innovation-policy/s tudies/geo_study3.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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