Are there any similarities in the CEE countries performance? Actually, we have more in common than you might think! All these countries are relatively strong in human resources, including on indicators such as new doctorate graduates, population aged 30-34 with tertiary education, and youth with at least upper-secondary education. Also, results in economic effects (i.e. employment in knowledge-intensive activities, medium and high-tech products exports, knowledge-intensive service exports, sales of new innovations, license and patent revenue from abroad) are generally satisfactory.
The recently published 2011 Innovation Union Scoreboard makes interesting and thought-provoking reading. The Scoreboard, which is published annually by the European Commission, tracks the performance of 27 EU countries in terms of their progress as innovation economies across a range of indicators. It also benchmarks the performance of the EU against its main competitors including the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea and the ‘BRIC’ countries. It also allows us to benchmark the CEE countries against other EU member states.
Although none of the countries in CEE ranks among “Innovation leaders” (the top positions are occupied by Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden), we needn’t be ashamed. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia show a performance slightly below the EU-27 average and are described as “Moderate innovators”.
Bulgaria and Romania ranked deeper below the EU-27 average as “Modest innovators”, but on the other hand they are seen as “Growth leaders” with an average annual growth rate well above 5%. What is also very encouraging is the fact that CEE countries in general are closing the gap between them and those that are ranked as ‘innovation leaders’. However, there is no reason for complacency as the Innovation Union Scoreboard shows signs that the pace of that is slowing down.
Where we do need to improve is in areas such as open, excellent, attractive research systems (this means, among others, quality of scientific publications), linkages & entrepreneurship (SME innovating in-house, collaboration), intellectual assets and innovators outputs.
The importance of collaboration of various parties has also been stressed by the recently launched GE Global Innovation Barometer by StrategyOne which mentioned, among others, the “partnership paradox”: 86%of global executives believe partnerships are an important component of the new model of innovation, but only 21% believe finding partners is an immediate priority to innovate more on a day-to-day basis.
The good news is that some of these weak areas have already seen some change for the better – most CEE countries have been improving in Community trademarks and Community designs (both being important indicators of the level of Intellectual assets) and some countries, like Bulgaria and Hungary, have also seen a sound growth in firm investments.
The opportunities are enormous for the CEE region. For the EU there is a social and economic imperative to ensure that Europe becomes an ‘Innovation Union’ as the European Commission strives for. Our future competitiveness as individual member states, as CEE region and as EU depends on it.