One of the Europe 2020 targets is to reach an R&D investment intensity of 3% in the EU. Governments and firms are investing strongly in research and development. However, the use of these resources will not be effective if they are not invested in a first class research and innovation system that is capable of transforming ideas into innovation and spurring the development and deployment of technologies for industry and society. A more efficient R&I system means generating the best possible output from invested input; a more effective system means attaining more relevant outcomes for the economy and society. The objectives of efficiency and effectiveness should therefore be actively pursued and must cover the whole research and innovation cycle.
There is no ideal or absolute model for an R&I system. Its specific configuration will not be optimal if it is not tailored to the industrial, social and cultural setting at national and regional level. However, many features of a system can be transposed from one setting to another with slight adaptations, notably from other countries with similar patterns. The country profiles show that some countries excel more than others at science and technology (S&T) for the same level of public investment. In some countries, the challenge for efficiency starts at the reforms needed to achieve scientific and technological excellence. Growing investment has raised levels of excellence in S&T in many countries, but the degree of improvement may still be lower than the EU average. For other countries the main challenge is to trigger fast-growing innovative enterprises and international competitiveness by disseminating knowledge.
The synthesis table below illustrates these findings. The first column shows the latest levels of R&D intensity of each country and its growth over the last decade. This input can be seen alongside two new composite indicators on research excellence and on structural change towards a more knowledge-intensive economy. Finally, an effective innovation system should have an effect on international competitiveness and on the trade balance of more sophisticated products and services. The last column, based on a recognised methodology used by the OECD, provides important insights into the competitiveness of a country. In order to interpret it, parallel information on the trends in absolute values of exports is made available in each country profile.