From Statistics Explained
- Data from January 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2015.
This article looks at the state of innovation in the European Union (EU) by presenting data on the innovation behaviour of enterprises. Innovation is often considered key to maintaining 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 the EU, 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 currently reported by the Community innovation survey: product, process, organisational and marketing innovation.
Main statistical findings
Extent of innovation
Among the EU Member States, the highest shares of innovative enterprises during the period 2008–10 (see Figure 1) were observed in Germany (79.3 % of all enterprises), Luxembourg (68.1 %), Belgium (60.9 %) and Portugal (60.3 %). 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 %).
Figure 2 shows the type of innovation analysed according to three categories of innovators: product and/or process innovators only (therefore not performing organisational and/or marketing innovation); organisational and/or marketing innovators only (therefore not performing product and/or process innovation); and enterprises that developed both categories of innovation (product/process innovation as well as organisational/marketing innovation). It appears that in those EU Member States where the share of innovative enterprises is high, the proportion of innovative enterprises that combine product/process and organisational/marketing innovation also tends to be high. As already noted, in Germany and Luxembourg the shares of innovative enterprises were highest and these two Member States also had relatively high shares (around 60 %) of innovative enterprises that reported both categories of innovation. Although having lower overall proportions of innovative enterprises, Slovakia, Cyprus and Denmark also reported a similarly high proportion (around 60 %) of innovative enterprises with both categories of innovation. By contrast, the countries with relatively low shares of innovative enterprises generally had proportionally fewer innovative enterprises that developed both types of innovation, less than 35.0 % in Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia and Romania.
Among product and/or process innovative enterprises in the EU-27, just over one in four enterprises (25.5 %) were engaged in cooperation regarding their innovation activities (see Table 1). This cooperation might be with other enterprises within the (enterprise’s) group, suppliers, commercial laboratories, universities, or public research institutes. The remaining (74.5 %) relied only on internal resources for their innovation activities. 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 (43.3 %) and Hungary (43.2 %), 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 %).
Table 1 also shows an analysis by enterprise size class of the proportion of product and/or process innovative enterprises that cooperate in their innovation activities. According to these results, small (10–49 employees), medium-sized (50–249 employees) and large enterprises (250 or more employees) behaved differently: the larger the innovative enterprises were, the more likely they were to cooperate. This was the case for all of the countries shown in the table, except for Latvia, Luxembourg and Iceland (where medium-sized enterprises cooperated less than small enterprises) and the United Kingdom (where large enterprises cooperated less than medium-sized enterprises).
Marketing innovation was present in slightly more than one in four enterprises (26.8 %) across the EU-27. Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal provided the highest shares of marketing innovators. With the recent inclusion of organisational and marketing innovation in EU innovation statistics, information can now be obtained on which types of new marketing methods are developed by marketing innovative enterprises (see Table 2).
Based on the available data (therefore excluding Denmark, Greece and the United Kingdom), the most common novelty or improvement among EU marketing innovators was the introduction of new media or techniques for product promotion; Cyprus and the Czech Republic were the leaders in this specific type of marketing innovation. The other most common implementations were, 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
Table 3 presents the methods considered to be successful for stimulating creativity among innovative enterprises. Enterprises in more than half of the countries (for which data are available) considered brainstorming sessions to be the most beneficial method of stimulating creativity. Nevertheless, the results varied considerably, ranging from just 6.9 % of innovative enterprise in Italy considering brainstorming sessions to be highly successful to a peak of 76.9 % in Cyprus; Luxembourg also reported a very high share (72.2 %) of innovative enterprises using this method to stimulate creativity. Multidisciplinary or cross-functional work teams were reported to be the second most successful method for enterprises to stimulate creativity. Luxembourg reported the highest share of innovative enterprises that considered this method highly fruitful, followed by Norway and Cyprus; once more enterprises in Italy reported the lowest shares using multidisciplinary or cross-functional work teams to stimulate creativity. Overall, training employees how to develop new ideas or creativity was considered to be somewhat less successful than the first two methods. The highest shares of innovative enterprises that regarded this method as successful were again observed in Cyprus and Luxembourg, followed by Serbia. Methods related to job rotation of staff, financial incentives and non-financial incentives for employees to develop new ideas were relatively less often reported by innovative enterprises as being highly successful.
Data sources and availability
The Community innovation survey (CIS) collects information about product and process innovation, as well as 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 also 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. Information collected within the CIS allows for an analysis of cooperation partners for national partners, partners from other European countries, the United States, China or India, and other countries.
A CIS 2010 ad hoc module focused 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 was collected for 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 methods were considered successful by enterprises 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 policymakers and the scientific community. The statistics provided are closely linked to the EU’s policy activities. Indicators on innovation are a tool for decision making and also help to assess initiatives such as the Innovation Union or the European Research Area (ERA) within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy (the EU's growth strategy). Research and innovation is one of five key targets covered by the strategy; the other four are employment, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction, and climate/energy.
Seven ‘flagship initiatives’ provide a framework to support the Europe 2020 priorities — they are in the areas of innovation, the digital economy, employment, youth, industrial policy, poverty, and resource efficiency.
The Innovation Union has three objectives, namely, 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. The partnership on active and healthy ageing provides an illustration of one of these action points, with the target to ‘add an average of two years of healthy life for everyone in Europe’. Another example of an action point targets stimulating innovation in Europe by enhancing access to finance for innovative companies.
The Innovation Union Scoreboard(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 also helps monitor implementation of the Innovation Union. The IUS is based on three types of indicators and eight innovation dimensions. CIS provides six of the 25 indicators available in the scoreboard. Countries are grouped into four categories: innovation leaders, innovation followers, moderate innovators and modest innovators.
- Careers of doctorate holders
- High-tech statistics
- Patent statistics
- R & D expenditure
- R & D personnel
Further Eurostat information
- Science and technology, see:
- Community innovation survey (t_inn)
- Turnover from innovation (tsdec340)
- 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 2013 (IUS)
- Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2012 (RIS)
- OECD - Science and innovation - Statistics (feed)
- European Commission - Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
- The Lisbon council - making Europe fit for the future