From Statistics Explained
- Data from January 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
Innovation is often considered key to maintaining our competitiveness on the global market, creating jobs and improving the quality of life. One of the main objectives of European policies is to encourage innovation in Europe, by providing incentives to stimulate and improve this economic driver.
EU innovation statistics provide users with an understanding of the innovation process, sources of information, cooperation among enterprises, objectives pursued by enterprises and other aspects. Four types of innovation are now reported by the Community innovation survey: product, process, organisational and marketing innovation.
This article looks at the state of innovation in the European Union (EU) by presenting data on countries’ innovation behaviour.
Main statistical findings
Extent of innovation
Among the EU Member States, the highest shares of innovative enterprises during the period 2008-2010 (see Figure 1) were observed in Germany (79.3 % of all enterprises), Luxembourg (68.1 %) and Belgium (60.9 %). More than half of all enterprises (52.9 %) in the EU-27 Member States (excluding Greece) reported innovation activity. The lowest shares were recorded in Bulgaria (27.1 %), Poland (28.1 %) and Latvia (29.9 %).
As regards the types of innovation that enterprises engage in, Figure 2 shows innovation in the different countries broken down by three categories of innovators: product and/or process innovators only (excluding organisational and/or marketing innovation), organisational and/or marketing innovators only (excluding product and/or process innovation) and enterprises that developed both categories: product/process innovation and organisational/marketing innovation. It seems that in the countries where the shares of innovative enterprises are high, the share of innovative enterprises that combine product/process and organisational/marketing innovation tends to be high too. In Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium, the shares of innovative enterprises are proportionally higher and these innovative enterprises tend to report both categories of innovation (58.7 %, 61.5 % and 55.4 % respectively). In contrast, the countries with low shares of innovative enterprises seem to have proportionally fewer innovative enterprises that develop both types of innovation: in Romania, only 32.3 % of innovative enterprises developed both types of innovation, in Latvia 34.5 %, in Poland 33.3 % and in Bulgaria 29.5 %.
- Innovation cooperation
Among product and/or process innovative enterprises in the EU-27, more than one in four enterprises (25.5 %) was engaged in cooperation regarding their innovation activities (see Table 1). This cooperation might be with other enterprises within the group, suppliers, commercial labs, universities or public research institutes. The remaining (74.5 %) relied only on internal resources. The highest shares of innovation cooperation were found in Cyprus (62.3 % of all product and/or process innovative enterprises), Austria (51.0 %), Slovenia (44.7 %), Lithuania and Hungary (43.3 % and 43.2 % respectively), and the lowest in Italy (12.1 %), the United Kingdom (13.7 %), Malta (18.5 %), Portugal (19.5 %), Spain (22.3 %) and Bulgaria (22.4 %).
In the same table, the shares of product and/or process innovative enterprises that cooperate are broken down by size class. According to these results, small, medium-sized and large enterprises behave differently: the larger the innovative enterprises are, the more they cooperate. This is the case for all countries except Latvia, Luxembourg and Iceland, where medium-sized enterprises (50-249 employees) cooperate less than small enterprises (10-49 employees).
- Marketing innovation
Marketing innovation is developed in more than one in four enterprises in the EU-27 (26.8 %). Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal provide the highest shares of marketing innovators. With the recent inclusion of organisational and marketing innovation in the innovation statistics, information can now be obtained on which types of new marketing methods are developed by innovative enterprises (see Table 2).
By estimation (excluding Denmark, Greece and the United Kingdom, for which data are not available), the most common novelty or improvement among European marketing innovators is the introduction of new media or techniques for product promotion. Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Ireland are the leaders in this specific type of marketing innovation. The most common implementations are, in decreasing order: significant changes to the aesthetic design or packaging, new methods of pricing goods or services and new methods of product placement.
Creativity and skills available in enterprises
As regards the findings on skills and creativity, Table 3 presents the successful methods for stimulating creativity in innovative enterprises in every country for which data are available. More than a half of the countries consider brainstorming sessions to be the most beneficial method. The highest shares of enterprises that strongly support this method are in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Ireland. Nevertheless, the results vary significantly among countries (between 6.9 % and 76.9 %). Multidisciplinary or cross-functional work teams are, according to enterprises, the second most successful method. Luxembourg, Cyprus and Slovenia have the highest shares of enterprises that consider this method highly fruitful. Enterprises in Italy and Norway seem to be more cautious about this method. Training on how to develop new ideas or creativity is overall a little less successful than the first two. The highest shares of innovative enterprises that regard this method as successful are observed in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Serbia. Methods related to job rotation of staff, financial incentives and non-financial incentives for employees to develop new ideas are relatively less endorsed and supported by innovative enterprises.
Data sources and availability
The Community innovation survey (CIS) collects information about product and process innovation and also organisational and marketing innovation. The legal basis for collecting these statistics is Regulation 1450/2004 of 13 August 2004 implementing Decision 1608/2003/EC concerning the production and development of Community statistics on innovation. Innovations are based on the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations. Such innovations may be developed by the innovating enterprise itself, together with other enterprises, by another enterprise or by adapting or modifying processes originally developed by other enterprises or institutions. The simple resale of new goods and services purchased from other enterprises is not considered innovation. Innovations should at least be new to the enterprise concerned. In some cases, innovative enterprises may cooperate with other parties and the cooperation partners may be located in other countries or on other continents. For the purposes of the CIS, national partners or partners from European countries, the United States, China or India or other countries can be distinguished.
A CIS 2010 ad hoc module focuses on in-house and external skills available in enterprises and methods for stimulating new ideas or creativity. The results highlight the differences between innovative and non-innovative enterprises. Information is given about enterprises that resort to external resources to obtain specific knowledge, or enterprises that only rely on internal capacities in fields such as multimedia, web design, market research, mathematics or engineering. The data also provide insight into which method is considered successful by enterprises in different countries for stimulating creativity: brainstorming sessions, multidisciplinary or cross-functional work teams, training, job rotation or financial and non-financial incentives for employees.
Eurostat has been collecting innovation statistics for many years to meet the needs of policy makers and the scientific community. The statistics provided are closely linked to the EU’s policy activities. Indicators on innovation are both a tool for decision making and help to assess initiatives such as the Innovation Union project or the European Research Area (ERA) in the Europe 2020 context. Europe 2020 is the European Union’s growth strategy. The goal is ‘creating the conditions for a different type of growth that is smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive’. Research and innovation is one of the five key targets covered by the EU strategy; the other four are employment, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction, and climate/energy.
Seven ‘flagship initiatives’ were also put in the spotlight, providing a framework to support the Europe 2020 priorities, in the areas of innovation, the digital economy, employment, youth, industrial policy, poverty, and resource efficiency. The Innovation Union is particularly considered a driver to raise growth and job creation.
The Innovation Union presents three circumstantial objectives, which are to:
- make Europe into a world-class science performer;
- remove obstacles to innovation — such as expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard-setting and skills shortages — that currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market; and
- revolutionise the way public and private sectors work together, not least through Innovation Partnerships between the European institutions, national and regional authorities and business.
In this context, the Innovation Union includes over thirty action points. A quote from the pilot Partnership on active and healthy ageing can illustrate these actions. The target is to ‘add an average of two years of healthy life for everyone in Europe’. Enhancing access to finance for innovative companies is also an action point to stimulate innovation in Europe. The Innovation Union Scorebroad(IUS) is a tool for assessing innovation performance in EU Member States and highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. It is also meant to help monitor implementation of the Innovation Union. The IUS is based on three types of indicators and eight innovation dimensions. The Community innovation survey provides six of the 25 indicators available in the IUS. Countries are grouped into four categories: innovation leaders, innovation followers, moderate innovators and modest innovators.
Further Eurostat information
- Science and technology, see:
- Community innovation survey (inn)
- Results of the second community innovation survey (CIS2) (inn_cis2)
- Results of the third community innovation survey (CIS3) (inn_cis3)
- Results of the fourth community innovation survey (CIS4) (inn_cis4)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2006 (CIS2006) (inn_cis5)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2008 (CIS2008) (inn_cis6)
- Results of the community innovation survey 2010 (CIS2010) (inn_cis7)
- Results of the first community innovation light survey - CIS light (inn_cisl)
Methodology / Metadata
- Community innovation survey (ESMS metadata file - inn_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- European Commission - Innovation Union - Key documents
- European Innovation Scoreboard 2011 (IUS)
- Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2012 (RIS)
- OECD - Science and innovation - Statistics
- European Commission - Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
- The Lisbon council - making Europe fit for the future