Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation ecosystems

Science, research and innovation performance of the EU

Science, research and innovation performance of the EUResearch and innovation are key to building a prosperous future for the EU. They therefore figure prominently in the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Semester process and underpin progress towards the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission, from providing a new boost to jobs, growth and investment, to developing the digital single market and developing the Energy Union. This report presents an in-depth indicator-based analysis of the EU’ s science, research and innovation performance and provides insight into the underpinning factors and drivers.

According to the Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation:

The EU has fantastic strengths. It is open, diverse, and hosts excellent institutions. With Horizon 2020, the Union funds research and innovation on an unprecedented scale. But we face three major challenges. First, we need to strongly improve our track record in getting research results to market and technologies developed in Europe are often commercialised elsewhere. Second, although Europe generates more scientific output than any other region in the world, we often fall behind on the very best science. Third, Europe punches below its weight in international science cooperation and science diplomacy.

The Report shows, first and foremost, that the EU’ s productivity gap with the US has widened following the economic and financial crisis and that this is linked to a relative underinvestment in R&D and an inability to re-orient the economy towards activities with a higher knowledge content. While the Report shows that the EU continues to be one of the world’ s major players in science and technology, it also shows that the EU’ s economy needs to become more dynamic and innovation-intensive.

Open Innovation is about getting more actors involved in the innovation process and creating an ecosystem in which innovation flourishes. Yet the evidence shows that the EU continues to be locked into a specialisation pattern in which high-tech activities such as ICT, pharma or biotech are underrepresented. This is intimately linked to the fact that we do not yet have the correct conditions in place to attract enough private sector investment in innovation and for innovation-intensive businesses to grow and become major global players. Further progress needs to be made in relation to the availability of venture capital, the reduction of heavy product market regulations and in removing barriers to entrepreneurship and the ease of doing business.

Open Science is about greater collaboration, access and reuse of results and is the foundation of excellence in science and future prosperity. Here the Report shows how continued policy efforts are paying off. The EU is now not only the largest producer of scientific publications in the world, but has also become the largest producer of high quality publications and is reducing the gap with the US in other metrics of scientific quality. On the other hand, the intensity of knowledge circulation and therefore the openness of the EU’ s science system still lags behind that of its main competitors. More needs to be done to equip the EU with a high quality science base and to strengthen the EU’ s position as a global leader in open science.

Europe is a world leader in science, and this should translate into a leading voice in global debates. Europe should also be leading the way in developing global research partnerships to address challenges in areas like energy, health, food and water. The Report shows how the growing openness of the global research and innovation system has enhanced the importance of international collaboration, and has become a crucial factor in accessing new sources of knowledge and improving competitiveness. The EU is the world leader in terms of international co-publications, but the major part of that is intra-European and in terms of technological collaboration, the EU is not taking sufficient advantage of the emergence of China as a technological powerhouse.

Innovation is at the basis of transforming the EU into a knowledge based economy. By providing a comprehensive and indicators based analysis of the EU’ s research and innovation performance and its drivers, I am sure that this Report will provide policy makers across Europe with clear insights into the challenges that lie before them.