Ireland still ranked as a follower when it comes to innovation

Sweden seen as most innovative Member State in major new EU study

European Commissioner for research, innovation and science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. Photograph: Alan Betson/Irish Times

European Commissioner for research, innovation and science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. Photograph: Alan Betson/Irish Times

 

Ireland continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to innovation, according to a new study from the European Commission.

The Innovation Union Scoreboard, which assesses the performances of EU Member States, has lumped Ireland in with nine other countries as being close to the EU average when it comes to innovation.

The group containing Ireland, as well as Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, is classified as ‘innovation followers.’

According to the study, Sweden is the most innovative country in the EU in terms of its investment in research and other key areas, followed closely by Denmark, Finland and Germany. Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania and Poland are ranked as the least innovative Member States.

The Innovation Union Scoreboard, which was first published in 2009, draws on 25 different indicators including entrepreneurship, intellectual assets and research systems.

Ireland moved up one place from tenth to ninth in the overall rankings for the 28 EU Member States this year. Ireland performs well above the EU average on international scientific co-publications and license and patent revenues from abroad. Other strong performing indicators cited include population with tertiary education, employment in knowledge intensive-services and knowledge-intensive services exports. Relative weaknesses cited in the report are in community designs and non-R&D innovation expenditures.

Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock welcomed Ireland’s continued improvement in the rankings. He said he was particularly pleased to see the country ranked the overall leader in the indicator of the economic effects of innovation.

“This is a very positive indication of improvement in Ireland’s competitiveness in key areas of the economy,” he said.

According to the latest scoreboard, the EU is seen to be closing its innovation gap with the US and Japan but differences in performance between Member States are still high and diminishing only slowly.

The study shows that at a regional level, the innovation gap is widening, with performance having worsened in almost one fifth of EU regions.

“The Scoreboard confirms once again that investment in research and innovation pays dividends in terms of economic performance. With a budget of nearly €80 billion over the next seven years, our new research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 will help us maintain this momentum. We need to increase innovation investment across the EU now, to reach our target of 3 per cent of GDP by 2020,” said European Commissioner for research, innovation and science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.