EU innovation performance continues to improve at the national and regional level

The 2023 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard and the bi-yearly edition of the Regional Innovation Scoreboard published today showcase that, despite the recent crises, EU Member States and their regions keep improving their innovation performance.

The European Innovation Scoreboard 2023 highlights a substantial improvement in the innovation performance of approximately 8.5% since 2016, confirming the EU’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation. The innovation performance of 25 countries improved during this period, although at a slower pace in the more recent years, and that 20 Member States experienced a significant rise in their innovation capabilities over the past year, while only seven observed a decline. Nevertheless, countries with less strong innovation systems tend to improve less rapidly than the EU average.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard also reports a rise in innovation performance for most of the regions in the EU since 2016. Even though innovative regions tend to be situated within the most innovative countries, some regional ‘pockets of excellence’ are found in countries with relatively lower innovation performance.

At the global level, the EU is still performing slightly better than China and is closing the performance gap with Australia, although the gap with Canada, the Republic of Korea, and the United States has expanded.

Key findings

Based on their scores, Members States fall into four performance groups: Innovation Leaders (performance is above 125% of the EU average), Strong innovators (between 100% and 125% of the EU average), Moderate innovators (between 70% and 100% of the EU average) and Emerging innovators (below 70% of the EU average). Denmark is the new top innovator, while Sweden, which had topped the board in the last few years, is coming second. Other Innovation Leaders are Finland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

In comparison to last year’s edition, the distribution of Member States across performance groups has stayed broadly stable. Hungary progressed to a higher performance group and became a Moderate innovator, while innovation performance has decreased in France, and Luxembourg since 2016.

In particular:

  • Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus, and France are Strong innovators, performing above the EU average.
  • Estonia, Slovenia, Czechia, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Lithuania, Greece and Hungary are Moderate innovators.
  • Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania are Emerging innovators.

At the regional level, innovation performance has increased for 211 regions out of the total of 239 regions over the period since 2016, as shown in the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2023. The most innovative region in Europe is Hovedstaden in Denmark, followed by Helsinki-Uusimaa in Finland, and Oberbayern in Germany. Stockholm in Sweden is in fourth place, and Berlin in Germany is in fifth place.

Despite the progress in innovation, the EU’s innovation divide persists and is predominantly shaped by geographic concentrations. While Innovation Leaders and most Strong innovators are predominantly located in Northern and Western Europe, many of the Moderate and Emerging innovators are in Southern and Eastern Europe.

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