Promoting innovation in the Candidate Countries is a must for successful enlargement, says report

November 12, 2002

Brussels, 11 Nov 2002

Innovation has to take centre stage if EU enlargement is to succeed, despite its low visibility during accession negotiations, concludes a Commission report to be published in February 2003.

The document, entitled 'Innovation policy in seven Candidate Countries: the challenges' examines the state of innovation in seven accession states - Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey - and compares its findings with the results of a previous study on the remaining six candidate nations.

The report's authors say: 'There is a significant gap between stated intentions to support innovation by the Candidate Countries' policy makers and actual concrete implementation measures and financing schemes.' Innovation support systems in each of the countries have a marked technology focus, while services for entrepreneurs and commercialising activities are overlooked, says the study.

A summary of the report's preliminary findings show that the seven countries lag behind in all four indicator groups from the innovation scoreboard: human resources; knowledge creation; transmission and application of new knowledge; and innovation finance output and markets. Of the key indicators, they are most successful in terms of the proportion of the population with third level education.

Areas where action is needed include knowledge generation, where poor performance reflects the absence of demand for domestic research and development. The contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovation is another failing, with the share of SMEs active in innovation very low when compared to the EU. Finally, financial systems in the Candidate Countries are very weak and unable to mobilise the necessary funds for innovation.

The report identifies that a key challenge for the policy makers in each of the seven countries is the development of more effective cooperation between research and industry. In order to achieve this, it says, policies must improve the absorptive capacity of local firms for research and development (R&D) output, address the issue of intellectual property, and enhance consultation between science and industry on R&D topics.

The study team, which includes representatives from each of the Candidate Countries, has carried out a number of workshops with policy makers and key stakeholders in an effort to foster a debate and support innovation policy making within the seven states. The final report will provide further ideas for initiatives and will provide an assessment of the benefits and risks associated with several legislative scenarios.

For further information, please consult the following web address: tudies/forthcom.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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