Innobarometer reveals companies' increased commitment to innovation

March 11, 2004

Brussels, 10 Mar 2004

Nearly 80 per cent of companies in the EU have introduced new or updated products in the last two years, and the proportion of 'big investors', enterprises that commit over half their total investments to innovation, is 14 per cent, according to the 2003 Innobarometer survey.

Alongside such positive performance indicators, the 2003 survey also reveals that more than 60 per cent of European managers are positive about their improved performance over the last two years, with particularly high levels of confidence recorded in Italy, Spain and Greece.

The Innobarometer survey was conducted at the request of the Commission's Enterprise DG, and gathered the views of over 3,000 top level executives throughout the EU. Its objective is to gauge companies' innovation needs, investments and outputs, as well as identifying the driving forces for innovative performance.

When asked to identify the most compelling factor for companies to innovate, the most common answer, given by 35 per cent of managers, was 'in response to consumer needs'. This appears particularly true for large companies, those within service industries, or those that had been established for less than ten years. Only in Italy did a higher proportion of managers point to the need to improve the efficiency of machinery and equipment as a more important factor in driving innovation.

Companies were also asked to specify the most important unsatisfied needs in terms of innovation. The most common complaint was lack of access to innovative customers and/or markets, cited by 37 per cent of managers, followed by difficulties in finding or mobilising human resources, with 35 per cent.

One finding sure to be a cause for concern among policy makers relates to managers' awareness of EU support for innovation activities. The Innobarometer notes that: 'Efforts made by the European Institutions in promoting innovation seem to be largely unknown with one in three manages unable to voice an opinion.' Those enterprises with 250 or more employees are most likely to respond positively in relation to public support for innovation, it adds.

Enthusiasm for a Community Patent is more widespread, however, with nearly 60 per cent of European executives believing that it would help companies in general to innovate, and nearly half feel that it would prove 'effective' for their own company.

The importance of innovation appears to be firmly engrained in the consciousness of European business, with the vast majority of companies clearly convinced of the need to innovate, and with 54 per cent of managers expressing the belief that their markets will 'become more receptive' to innovative products.

The survey concludes by saying: 'The 2003 Innobarometer thus underlines the willingness of European managers to strengthen their competitive position through innovation. [...] Continued efforts are needed to ensure that innovative companies are supported and rewarded and thereby lead the Union towards a truly common innovative economy.' To download the 2003 Innobarometer, please visit: /innobarometer2003.htm

For further information on the Innobarometer, please visit: /innobarometer.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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