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EU innovation performance continues to improve at the national and regional level


The 2023 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard and the bi-annual edition of the Regional Innovation Scoreboard show that EU Member States (MSs) and their regions continue to improve their innovation performance.

The European Innovation Scoreboard 2023 highlights a substantial improvement in the innovation performance of approximately 8.5% since 2016, which confirms the EU's commitment to fostering a culture of innovation.

The innovation performance of 25 MSs improved during this period, although the pace slowed in recent years. A significant rise in innovation capabilities was experienced by 20 MSs during 2022 and only seven MSs observed a decline. Countries with weaker innovation systems improved less rapidly than the EU average.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard also showed a rise in innovation performance for most of the regions in the EU since 2016. Innovation performance increased for 211 regions out of the total of 239 regions, in 22 MSs. While the most innovative regions tend to be found in the most innovative MSs, there are some regional ‘pockets of excellence' in MSs with a less strong innovation record.

At the global level, the EU still performs slightly better than China and is closing the performance gap with Australia, although the gap with Canada, the Republic of Korea, and the United States has widened.

Key findings

Based on their scores, MSs fall into four performance groups: 

  • Innovation Leaders (performance greater than 125% of the EU average) - Denmark is the new top innovator, replacing Sweden, which moves into second place. Other innovation leaders are Finland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
  • Strong innovators (between 100% and 125% of the EU average) - Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus, and France perform above the EU average.
  • Moderate innovators (between 70% and 100% of the EU average) - Estonia, Slovenia, Czechia, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Lithuania, Greece and Hungary (a new entrant into the group).
  • Emerging innovators (below 70% of the EU average) - Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The most innovative region in Europe is Hovedstaden, Denmark, followed by Helsinki-Uusimaa, Finland, and Oberbayern, Germany. Stockholm, Sweden is in fourth place, and Berlin, Germany in fifth place.

Despite the progress in innovation, the EU's innovation divide persists between North and South, with Innovation Leaders and Strong innovators predominantly located in Northern and Western Europe, and many of the Moderate and Emerging innovators, in Southern and Eastern Europe.

This divide emphasises the need for targeted efforts to bridge the innovation gap and foster equitable growth across the EU, which is one of the goals of the New European Innovation Agenda, adopted in July 2022. Through strategic initiatives like the Deep Tech Talent Initiative, the Innovation Talent Platform, and the Regional Innovation Valleys, the EU aims to foster deep tech innovation and promote a start-up culture. By investing in deep tech talent, fostering innovation ecosystems, and leveraging regional strengths, countries or regions can drive technological advancement, and maintain a competitive edge in the global innovation landscape.

Both scoreboards provide a comprehensive assessment of national and regional innovation strengths and weaknesses, empowering countries to identify areas for improvement, and serves as a guide for shaping policies that amplify innovation across Europe, while keeping pace with the rapidly evolving global landscape.