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Nordic countries as innovation leaders

The annual Innovation Union Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the 27 EU member states and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. It uses a total of 25 indicators, a few of them relating to higher education and research, and ranks EU countries into four categories: ‘innovation leaders’, innovation followers’, ‘moderate innovators’ and ‘modest innovators’. Sweden, Germany and Denmark are, together with Finland, the leaders of the 2013 Innovation Union Scoreboard, which the European Commission’s DG Enterprise recently published. The present edition is the first one which reflects the impact of the economic crisis, with data for most indicators referring to the years 2010 and 2011.

Overall, innovation and research performance has been increasing once again across the EU-27 area, which is good news. Growth was highest in the Baltic countries, with Estonia registering a proud 7.1% increase. For the third time in a row, Sweden leads the table, as the strongest ‘innovation leader’. Germany, which switched places with Denmark, is now in second place.  But even though the EU-27 annual average growth rate was 1.6% over the 5-year period from 2008 to 2012, the innovation divide between EU member states is widening. Two countries (Greece and Cyprus) reported a decline, and Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Romania are at the end of the table.

On an international scale, this year’s Innovation Union Scoreboard confirms the historical lead of the US, Korea and Japan over the EU. In Europe, the only country outperforming Sweden is Switzerland. The 27 EU countries continue to have a performance lead over the BRICS countries, but this lead has been narrowing in the case of China.

2013 Innovation Union Scoreboard