Europe's innovation horizon

August 7, 2018

Europe's innovation horizon

Julia Rijssenbeek
August 7, 2018

Europe's innovation horizon

Julia Rijssenbeek
August 7, 2018
Europe's innovation horizon
Julia Rijssenbeek
Maya Turolla
August 7, 2018
Photo courtesy of Sharon Pittaway. © Unsplash.

What happened?

he European Innovation Scoreboard 2018 was published earlier this month, providing a comparative analysis of innovation performance of European and surrounding countries. It shows improving performance and accelerating progress for Europe compared to last year. Specifically, the Netherlands showed the biggest increase in innovation since 2012.

What does this mean?

At first glance, this is a positive outcome. However, there are two reasons why the scoreboard shows Europe’s weaknesses as an innovative continent. First, the monitor shows that on a global level, while the EU is catching up with the U.S. and maintains its lead over China, this lead is decreasing rapidly, with China having improved almost three times as fast as the EU. Second, Europe is globally strong in science but underperforming in innovation. The industry plays an important role in the digital innovation process, as scientific innovations often find their way to the market via companies. Businesses are seen as engines of innovation. However, the trend of European SMEs introducing innovations is only slowly gaining traction and the EU is not home to companies comparable to big tech parties in the U.S. and in China.

What's next?

Europe has little time left to step up its innovation power in times of digital hegemony focused around just two centers of gravity: the U.S. West Coast and the east coast of China. Both superpowers show strength in business R&D expenditures and a greater focus on turning scientific research into business innovation. Aware of this, the European commission has proposed a new innovation program (Horizon Europe, building on Horizon 2020) with measures to help the EU become a frontrunner in market-creating innovation.

About the author
At FreedomLab, Julia Rijssenbeek focuses on our relationship to nature, sustainable and technological transitions in the food system, and the geopolitics of our global food sytems. She is currently working on her PhD in philosophy of technology at Wageningen University, investigating how synthetic biology might alter philosophical ideas about nature and the values we hold, as well as what a bio-based future may bring.
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