Scoreboard shows EU innovation levels still low compared with US and Japan

December 18, 2002

Brussels, 17 Dec 2002

The Commission has published its 2002 European innovation scoreboard, which reveals that as a whole, the EU continues to lag behind the US and Japan in most of the key innovation indicator areas, but is starting to catch up in several areas.

Published on 10 December by the Commission's DG Enterprise, the scoreboard is a benchmarking instrument that forms part of the EU's strategy to become the world's most competitive knowledge economy by 2010. This year's European innovation scoreboard (EIS) is the first to present data for the candidate countries (which shows them to be closing the gap with EU Member States), associated countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), and individual regions within EU Member States.

Presenting the scoreboard, Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, said: 'Innovation has to be on the top of the agenda of an enlarging Union if the EU is to meet its goals of becoming more competitive as defined by Member States at the Lisbon European Council. Urgent action is needed to boost innovation in the EU regions, Member States and the Candidate Countries.'

The EIS contains 17 main indicators divided between four groups: human resources for innovation, the creation of new knowledge, the transmission and application of knowledge, and innovation finance, outputs and markets. It is based on information from Eurostat, or private data of sufficient reliability if official data is not available.

The 2002 data confirms that the innovation performance of the EU is still low compared to its main international rivals, the US and Japan. Japan leads the EU in eight of the ten indicators for which comparable data is available, and the US leads in seven. The only significant lead enjoyed by the EU is over Japan in levels of home Internet access.

The emergence of some encouraging trends within the EU may offset some of the disappointment associated with the indicator results. For five out of eight comparable trend indicators the EU has been improving faster than the US, and compared with Japan the EU leads in all seven available indicators. These positive trend results suggest that the EU may be catching up with its main competitors.

The most worrying results are found in the areas of business R&D and high-tech patenting, where poor performances identified in the 2001 survey persist in this year's scoreboard. The lower rate of increase in business research and development (R&D) in the EU than in the US is of particular concern, as this is the main indicator of future technology-based innovations.

The EIS 2002 contains evidence that the southern European countries are closing the gap on the rest of the EU. In Portugal and Greece, both public and private R&D spending levels are improving more quickly than the EU average, and Spain is well above the mean EU levels for employment in high-tech services and high-tech patents. Italy is the only southern country that shows no significant improvements.

The assessment of the candidate countries' performance is, on the whole, favourable, with at least four of the accession states very near or above the EU average in four key indicators: tertiary education, employment in high-tech manufacturing, ICT expenditure and inward foreign direct investment. The mean trends for the candidate countries exceed the EU mean trends in five of the 10 comparable indicators, in particular for market and investment indicators.

The available regional data suggests a positive relationship between a region's innovative and economic performance. The top 10 leading European regions identified in the scoreboard are distributed across seven countries: Stockholm (S), Uusimaa (Suuralue) (FIN), Noord-Brabant (NL), Eastern region (UK), Pohjois-Suomi (FIN), Ile-de-France (F), Bayern (D), South-East region (UK) Comunidad de Madrid (E) and Baden-Württemberg (D). The regional scoreboard indicators are described as a 'first start at underpinning regional policy with comparable data'.

Aside from providing an insight into the state of innovation within the EU and in a global context, the innovation scoreboard will be used as a basis for future actions as well, as Erkki Liikanen explains: 'This year the scoreboard provides policy makers and the business community with many more examples to learn from the best. The Commission will also draw lessons from the scoreboard and present a new communication on innovation policy early next year.'

The EIS is complemented by six technical papers:
- Technical paper number one: Member States and associate countries
- Technical paper number two: candidate countries
- Technical paper number three: EU regions
- Technical paper number four: indicators and definitions
- Technical paper number five: thematic scoreboard 'lifelong learning for innovation'
- Technical paper number six: methodological report All technical papers are available from the trend chart website listed below

For further information, please consult the following web addresses:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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