The growth of innovation in the EU is slowing, making it more difficult for the EU to compete internationally
Ned Stafford /Hamburg, Germany
The growth of innovation in the EU is slowing, making it more difficult for the EU to close the gap with the global leaders for innovation - the US, Japan and South Korea - and for the EU to maintain its significant lead over rapidly emerging economies, such as China and India, according to a report from the European Commission.
The report, which covers efforts in all 27 EU nations and shows Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland are the top innovators, indicates ’innovation performance’ in 2011 was up 1.2% from 2010 and up 4.3% from five years ago. However, the rate of growth is slowing - in 2010, the increase was 1.5%.
’This year’s results are a clear warning that more efforts to boost innovation are needed,’ said Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship at the Commission. ’If we want to close the gap with our main economic partners and to overcome the current crisis, innovation deserves all our attention.’
The report, Innovation Union Scoreboard 2011, indicates that the EU performs well in science indicators, such as the number of international scientific co-publications, most cited publications and the training of new PhD graduates. But the report warns that compared with the US, Japan and South Korea, the EU scores lower in business innovation indicators such as research and development expenditure, patent applications and export of medium-tech and high-tech products.
Bernhard Thier, senior manager for corporate media relations at BASF, says that BASF and is strengthening R&D activities in all world regions. ’The EU needs to advocate public acceptance of new technologies,’ he adds. ’Industry is the sector with the highest investments in R&D - a successful innovation policy in the EU must be part of a policy framework that creates favourable conditions for the European industry and that allows for new products to enter the European market within a reasonable time-frame.’
Carlo Corazza, spokesman for Commissioner Tajani said: ’While there is no single recipe for all EU Member States, given the wide range of different strengths and weaknesses in different fields, the challenge for European policy-makers is to stimulate businesses to innovate more, in particular by creating the right climate for innovation.’
Second tier innovators, dubbed ’innovation followers’, who perform close to the EU average, include Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Cyprus and Estonia. The report says less innovative EU nations are generally growing faster than their more innovative cousins leading to steady convergence. Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania, Portugal and Slovenia are growing at more than 5% per year.
The report noted that South Korea’s innovation lead over the EU increased in 2011, while the US lead of the EU remained stable and Japan’s lead declined. The EU’s innovation lead over Canada, Russia and South Africa grew, while remaining stable with Australia. However the EU’s innovation lead over Brazil, and in particular China and India, declined.
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