Innovation Nation: The EU-U.S. Innovation Gap Is Getting Smaller, but America Still Leads in Most Categories

The American (Washington, DC), May-June 2008 | Go to article overview

Innovation Nation: The EU-U.S. Innovation Gap Is Getting Smaller, but America Still Leads in Most Categories


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Americans like to think we live in the most innovative country in the world. But how do other countries compare?

The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) is an annual survey of "innovation indicators and trend analyses" put together under the auspices of the European Commission. The 2007 EIS, which was released earlier this year, covers not only the EU-27 member countries, but also the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Croatia, and Turkey.

While the innovation lead enjoyed by the United States over Europe has declined in recent years, America retains an edge in most categories. According to the EIS, "There are 15 indicators with full data for the U.S. and EU, and of these the U.S. performs better than the EU in 11 indicators, while the EU scores above the U.S. in 4 indicators."

But that isn't the whole story. "Although the U.S. is leading in 11 indicators, on 9 of these indicators the U.S. is outperformed by at least one European country." Indeed, according to the EIS, "Sweden is the most innovative country, largely due to strong innovation inputs, although it is less efficient than some other countries in transforming these into innovation outputs." The only two indicators on which America outperforms all other European countries are tertiary education and U. …

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