One of the key aims of the Europe 2020 strategy is to foster research, development and innovation. This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat Regional Yearbook publication. It presents statistical information analysing regional developments for a range of science and technology indicators within the European Union (EU), including the following domains: research and development (R & D), the number of researchers, human resources in science and technology (HRST), employment in high technology sectors and patent applications.
Main statistical findings
Regional research, knowledge and innovative capacity depends on a range of factors — business culture, workforce skills, education and training institutions, innovation support services, technology transfer mechanisms, regional infrastructure, the mobility of researchers, sources of finance and creative potential. Education, training and lifelong learning are considered vital to developing a region’s capacity to innovate, with universities across the EU increasingly implicated in the commercialisation of research, collaboration with regional businesses, and developing the entrepreneurial mind-set of students.
While EU funding seeks to target all regions, the innovation divide across Europe’s regions reflects a pattern whereby the majority of EU regions are low absorbers of Framework Programme funding and structural funds designed to raise their modest levels of research and innovation. There appears to be a regional innovation paradox, whereby those regions characterised by established innovative activity maintain their position as innovative leaders, while those that trail behind fail to catch-up, despite efforts to specifically target funding and policy prescriptions to these regions.
Research and development intensity
The average research and development spend in the EU-28 was EUR 526 per inhabitant in 2012
Map 1: R & D intensity, by NUTS 2 regions, 2011 (1)
(total R & D expenditure as a % of GDP) - Source: Eurostat (rd_e_gerdreg)
Intramural R & D expenditure (GERD) was estimated to be EUR 266.9 billion across the EU-28 in 2012; this equated to an average of EUR 526 of research and development expenditure per inhabitant. A decade earlier, in 2002, R & D expenditure per inhabitant had stood at EUR 382 per inhabitant; note that these figures are in current prices and therefore include the effects of price inflation.