Ireland ranks ninth as ‘strong innovator’ on European Innovation Scoreboard

24 Jun 2020

Image: © jw89/

The latest European Innovation Scoreboard sees Ireland ranked ninth, but the EU warns there is serious catching up to do with Asian nations.

This year’s European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) has revealed that Ireland is now ranked ninth in the EU, placed in the ‘strong innovators’ group. The scoreboard attempts to provide a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU member states and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems.

A total of 27 indicators across 10 innovation dimensions are used to assess a country’s performance, with Ireland ranking top in the EU for employment impact and sales impacts of innovation. Ireland also scored well for having a large population of people with tertiary education and for having a significant amount of international scientific co-publications.

However, Ireland scored low when it came to R&D expenditure in the public sector, private co-funding of public R&D expenditure and trademark applications.

Responding to Ireland’s placing in the EIS, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “As we have already seen this year in the rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic by our scientists, higher education institutes and enterprises, research and innovation is relevant for all of us in our daily lives.

“Now more than ever, it is beyond doubt that research and innovation will have an essential role in supporting the recovery, improving public services, living standards and the quality of life of all citizens.”

Map of EU nations showing their innovation performance groups.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2020. Click on the image to enlarge. Image: EU

Sweden tops EU nations

Topping the EU rankings this year was Sweden, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.9pc since 2012, with performance increasing the most in Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Greece.

At a global level, the EU warned that while its member states have surpassed the US for the second year in a row in terms of innovation performance, the EU is falling behind leaders such as Australia, Japan and South Korea.

China, meanwhile, has had the highest innovation performance growth rate since 2012, at more than five times the EU’s growth rate. The latest projections show that China will likely further close the gap and will overtake the US if current trends continue.

Commenting on this aspect of the EIS, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, said: “This year’s scoreboard shows that the EU is already a good place to do innovation, but we need to further step up efforts across the EU to find global solutions to contain the virus, and at the same time, help Europe’s recovery from the crisis.

“More than ever, innovation is important since it lies at the heart of our efforts to beat the coronavirus pandemic.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic