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Innovation Scoreboard 2020: Europe outperforms the US, but stays behind South Korea, Australia and Japan

Innovation performance improves across the European Union, surpassing for the second year the United States. This results have been released in the European Innovation Scoreboard 2020, recently published by the European Commission. However, the EU still needs to improve in order to catch up with global innovation leaders like South Korea, Australia and Japan.

Research and innovation have proven to be an essential part of the EU’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis and will be vital to support Europe’s sustainable and inclusive recovery. Measuring innovation performance is a key element in achieving this objective.

Main conclusions of the Innovation Scoreboard 2020:

On average, the EU’s innovation performance has increased by 8.9% since 2012. Thus, innovation performance has grown in 24 EU countries. Among the top performers are Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Greece.

Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups: innovation leaders, strong innovators, moderate innovators and modest innovators. This year, Luxembourg has moved from being a strong innovator to joining the group of leaders, while Portugal has moved from being a moderate to a strong innovator.

This year’s Scoreboard is characterised by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which has had impact on the EU’s average innovation performance. However, it has not affected the relative performance of Member States in relation to the EU’s global performance.

Globally, the EU has overtaken the United States for the second year in a row. The EU also continues to outperform China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and India. Since 2012, the EU’s performance gap with South Korea, Australia and Japan has widened, but has narrowed compared to the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. China has had the highest growth rate among the EU’s main competitors since 2012, with growth more than five times that of the EU.

In certain areas of innovation, the EU leaders are Sweden, human resources; Luxembourg, attractive research systems and intellectual assets; Denmark, innovation-friendly environment and financing and support; Germany, business investment; Portugal, innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises; Austria, links and collaboration; Ireland, impact on employment and sales.

In Spain:

Spain ranks 14th in the innovation ranking out of the total of 27 EU countries. Compared to last year, Spain has improved five positions and has overtaken Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Malta and Italy. Despite this progress, it continues to be among the countries considered “moderate” for its level of innovation, in the third European rank.

The report points out the three areas in which Spain has the best results: “human resources”, “innovation-friendly environment” and “employment impacts”. The areas in which Spain needs to improve include innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, business investment and public-private partnerships.

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