Sweden's design flair and innovative mindset have earned the country a new accolade.
Sweden's recently been named the best country in the EU when it comes to getting new ideas to reach the market, according to a new innovation indicator launched by the European Commission.
Innovation — developing it, using it, and harnessing it to drive economic growth — has come to the forefront lately as companies and countries try to rebuild after a long, dark recession. For example, EBN recently wrote about the Invest Again initiative and has started a discussion about focusing on investing in developing supply chain talent.
Innovation, clearly, is also very much on Europe's mind, too, and is taking a few different shapes.
One of the five key pieces of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth directly corresponds to improving the conditions for research and development; this is combined with the aim of raising combined public and private investment levels for R&D to 3% of GDP. To complement this R&D effort, the European Council gave the European Commission the mandate to develop a single innovation indicator, which is explained in detail here.
In short, the new innovation output indicator benchmarks national innovation policies. It is based on technological innovation as measured by patents, employment in knowledge-intensive activities as a percentage of total employment, competitiveness of knowledge-intensive goods and services, and employment in fast-growing firms operating in innovative sectors.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the Irish commissioner responsible for research, innovation, and science, said in a statement announcing Sweden's ranking:
The European Union must turn more great ideas into successful products and services in order to lead in the global economy. We also have to close a worrying 'innovation divide.' The proposed indicator will help us measure how we are doing and pinpoint areas where countries need to take action.
According to the indicator, Sweden is the EU member state that gets the most out of its innovation investments, followed by Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg. It also showed significant differences remain between EU countries, and that Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia received the lowest score on the indicator, only around half of the top score.
On the whole, the EU performs comparatively well internationally, at the level of the United States. However, it lags behind some of the most innovative economies worldwide, such as Switzerland and Japan, according to the statement.
As far as Sweden goes, the country's iconic global big-box IKEA furniture concept may forever be linked to the kind of design flair the country generates, but the Scandinavian nation’s innovations carry over into many other sectors, too, including Internet, technology, and consumer electronics/appliance companies. A few of them include Electrolux, Ericsson, Skype, and Spotify.
Who knows? Maybe this is all hype — all these ways of measuring innovation and encouraging countries to put more here. But for me, I'm glad to see the rallying cry getting louder. The same-old-same-old isn't going to get us further along on any front.
What's your take on these kinds of campaigns to drive innovation? Where would you like to see countries and companies focus their R&D efforts?