Eurada News nº401 - June 2020

European Innovation Scoreboard 2020: Assessing the Performance of the EU Countries

The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) 2020 was released on the 23rd of June 2020. Together with the Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS), these tools provide a benchmark of the research and innovation performance of EU Member States, regions, and selected third countries, helping to target the areas of each country which require the greatest support to improve their performance.   

The European Innovation Scoreboard: an overview 

Every year since 2001, the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) has been published in order to showcase individual EU countries’ research and innovation performance, as well as that of selected third countries.  This allows for better targeting of the regions most in need of support to improve their performance. The EIS distinguishes between four main types of activities – Framework conditionsInvestmentsInnovation activities, and Impacts – and ten innovation dimensions, leading to a total of 27 indicators. These measures are then averaged in the Summary Innovation Index, classifying the countries into four innovation performance groups: Innovation LeadersStrong InnovatorsModerate Innovators, and Modest Innovators

European Innovation Scoreboard 2020 

The European Innovation Scoreboard 2020 was released on the 23rd of June 2020. Compared to previous editions, the EIS 2020 is characterised by the absence of the United Kingdom since its withdrawal from the European Union; therefore, all results for the EU are for the current 27 Member States. The EIS 2020 reveals that the EU’s innovation performance continues to increase at a steady pace since 2012 with growing convergence between EU countries, as shown in figure 1. 

The right side of the graph identifies the best EU innovator countries, which can be divided in two groups: the Innovation Leaders group – where performance is above 125% of the EU average – composed of Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden; and the Strong Innovators group – with a performance between 95% and 125% of the EU average – made up of Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal. Figure 1 also illustrates that EU performance in innovation improved by 8.9% between 2012 and 2019. Specifically, 13 Member States experienced an improvement of more than 10% in the period considered: Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, and Greece improved by 20% or more; Finland improved by 19%; Estonia, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, and the Netherlands improved by between 10% and 15%. Compared to 2018, performance in 2019 has improved for 25 Member States, most notably for Cyprus, Spain, and Finland.  

As shown on the map in figure 2, the performance groups tend to be geographically concentrated, with the Innovation Leaders and most of the Strong Innovators located in Northern and Western Europe, and most of the Moderate Inn ovators in Southern and Eastern Europe, and all Modest Innovators in Eastern Europe. 

EIS2020 and Third Countries 

The EIS report presents also the scores for 10 more European countries or regional neighbours, using the same methodology applied to the EU Member States. Switzerland is the overall Innovation Leader in Europe, outperforming all EU Member States, as shown in figure 3. Switzerland’s strong performance results from being the best performer on eight indicators, with an overall increase of 22.6% compared to the EU average in 2012.

The graph also shows that the innovation performance of Serbia and Turkey – which are part of the Moderate Innovators group – has increased significantly compared to that of the EU in 2012. Specifically, Serbia’s strongest innovation dimensions for InnovatorsFirm investments, and Innovation-friendly environment. Serbia also achieves high scores on Enterprises providing ICT trainingSMEs innovating in-houseNon-R&D innovation expenditures, and SMEs with product or process innovations. For Turkey, the strongest innovation dimensions are InnovatorsFirm investments, and Innovation-friendly environment, while performing particularly well on Non-R&D innovation expendituresSMEs with marketing or organisational innovationsSMEs innovating in-house, and SMEs with product or process innovations

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard 

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) is a regional extension of the European innovation scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions on a limited number of indicators. The latest edition is the RIS 2019, which covers 238 regions across 23 EU countries, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. In addition, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Malta are included at country level.  

Similar to the EIS, where countries are classified into four innovation performance groups, Europe’s regions have been classified into similar groups of regional Innovation Leaders (38 regions), regional Strong Innovators (73 regions), regional Moderate Innovators (97 regions), and regional Modest Innovators (30 regions), as shown in figure 4. The innovation performance has shown a net improvement in 159 regions during the nine-year observation period in the RIS (2011 – 2019).  

The share of regions with positive performance change is highest for the Moderate Innovators (80%) and lowest for the Modest Innovators (45%). Notably, performance has increased for many regions where EURADA has a member present in the local territory, such as in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia and the United Kingdom. Regional Development Agencies can surely bring a substantial contribution to this innovation process, thanks to their support for the creation and development of innovative companies. EURADA, through its network and activities, is in the front line to pursue this objective.   

More information 

European Commission, European innovation scoreboard [website] 

European Commision, European innovation scoreboard 2020 – non-EU countries – Serbia 

European Commision, European innovation scoreboard 2020 – non-EU countries – Turkey 

European Commission, regional innovation scoreboard [website]


By Andrea CARINI, Intern at EURADA