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News | 06 Jul 2023

Measuring innovation matters for the EU

Innovation plays an important role in tackling the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges, such as climate change. This is why the European Commission puts tracking the European Union's innovation performance high on the agenda.

For over two decades, the European Commission has been tracking the annual performance of European Union (EU) countries using the European Innovation Scoreboard and for the past 10 years using as well the Tracking country innovation performance: The Innovation Output Indicator 2022, which focuses on tangible results of an innovation process, such as patents.

According to the most recent edition of the Innovation Output Indicator part of the INNOVA MEASURE V project,  Sweden and Germany top the list in terms of innovation output in 2021, whereas, the EU, as a whole, is still lagging behind the US, South Korea and Japan.

This year’s edition offers an analysis of start-ups and scale-ups and of the global innovation champions in the EU, which are becoming important actors of the European innovation landscape. It shows that start-ups are mainly present in the transportation and information and communication sectors, while scale-ups are more likely among large firms and among those that are part of an enterprise group.

The project also maps green and digital inventions and their relationship with foreign direct investment flows. Around 60-70% of the knowledge sourced for these inventions comes from outside the EU, particularly from the US and Japan, while patenting activity is highly concentrated in a few EU metropolitan areas, such as München, Paris, Eindhoven, and Stuttgart.

Looking further at the relationship between digital technologies and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in scientific publications, the project finds that this stream of scientific research is rapidly expanding. Most of the publications jointly address SDG7 on affordable and clean energy and the Internet of Things, and SDG13 on climate action and artificial intelligence.

“Sound and internationally comparable indicators on innovation are crucial for policy making. INNOVA looks for ways to adequately capture the full and evolving role of innovation in today’s economy” says Michela Bello, principal investigator of the INNOVA project at the JRC.

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