For the fifth year in a row, the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) has ranked Sweden first for overall “innovation performance” among countries surveyed.
“Sweden’s overall innovation leadership is based on its exceptional performance in the three dimensions capturing innovation inputs,” said the study.
Sweden ranked first in measures of knowledge creation, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship, and also received high marks for measures of innovation drivers and intellectual property.
Along with Finland, Denmark, Germany and the UK, Sweden belongs to the group of countries considered “innovation leaders.”
Per Eriksson, head of Sweden’s Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) welcomed the ranking, but pointed out that Sweden’s system for innovation can still be improved.
“We do very well on inputs, but not so well on outputs,” he said.
Results from the EIS back up Eriksson’s assessment.
According to the study, Sweden isn’t that efficient at transforming innovation inputs into outputs, nor has Sweden’s innovation growth trend kept pace with the EU average in recent years.
“Despite its overall leadership in innovation performance, Sweden has the lowest efficiency…indicating that despite its very good overall performance it has room to make improvements here,” the study said.
Eriksson explained that, outside of the defence sector, Sweden R&D funding is rarely directed to the corporate sector where firms and the government can share the costs and risks—as well as the rewards—of innovation.
“Currently, most of the R&D money goes to universities, he explained.
“We really need to move to a more demand-driven model for R&D spending in Sweden,” said Eriksson, adding that he hopes the issue can be addressed during discussion of the government’s research funding bill.
The EIS survey measured several “innovation indicators” in the twenty-seven EU member states, Croatia, Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, the United States, Australia, Canada and Israel.
The study was developed in 2000 at the request of the European Council to provide a comparative assessment of the innovation performance of EU Member States.