Switzerland is the most innovative country in Europe, comfortably ahead of second-placed Sweden, according to an annual study by the European Union.
The Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013, published this week, gives a comparative assessment of the innovation performance of the EU’s 27 member states and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. It also covers Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey.
Switzerland, which isn’t a member of the EU, confirmed its position as the overall innovation leader, continuously outperforming all EU countries.
The report said Switzerland’s strong performance was linked to being among the top-three performers for 15 indicators, in particular in “open, excellent and attractive research systems” where it has best performance in all three indicators: firm investments; intellectual assets; innovators and economic effects.
Switzerland’s relative weakness, on the other hand, was in having below-average shares of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) innovating in-house, SMEs collaborating with others and knowledge-intensive services exports.
Secrets of success
Within the EU, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Finland were classed as “innovation leaders”, with Poland, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria at the other end, “well below” the EU average.
The 2013 report concluded that the most innovative countries shared a number of strengths in their national research and innovation systems with a key role for business activity and the higher education sector.
“The business sectors of all innovation leaders perform very well, as measured by Business R&D expenditures and … patent applications,” it said.
“The innovation leaders also share a well-developed higher education sector as shown by very high scores in new doctoral graduates, international scientific co-publications and public-private co-publications with the latter also signalling strong linkages between industry and science.”
Switzerland is no stranger to doing well in such lists. In September, for the fourth consecutive year, it topped the overall rankings in World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013.