Innovation and digital skills – Italy in limbo according to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2024

The “European Innovation Scoreboard” (EIS), published annually since 2001, provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation (R&I) performance of EU Member States, neighbouring European countries and selected third countries (global competitors). The European Commission’s report is intended to help stakeholders assess the areas in which to concentrate their efforts to enhance innovative performance, considering the national socio-economic context (which is captured by a complementary set of structural indicators). The EIS results can reveal which dimensions of national innovation systems are particularly weak or strong and therefore should be the focus of attention by policy makers. The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) for 2024 serves as a performance compass for Europe’s commitment to fostering innovation. The 10% improvement in the EU’s innovation performance between 2017 and 2024 represents substantial progress. This progress is largely linked to the ongoing implementation of the New European Innovation Agenda, launched in 2022 which considers it essential to accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies and promote a dynamic environment for startups and established companies.

The EIS also shows that the Member States are progressing at different rates in their innovation performancewith particular improvements among those countries already above the EU average in Northern Europe, driven notably by significant progress in research collaborations and the adoption of digital technologies.

The report classifies EU Member States into four groups based on their innovative performance: Innovation Leaders, Strong Innovators, Moderate Innovators and Emerging Innovators. Italy falls into the group of Moderate Innovators, showing a performance below the EU average.

The Italian system has distinguished itself in sectors such as corporate investment and digitalization, suggesting a favorable environment for start-ups and existing companies investing in technology and innovation. However, the remaining indicators determine a significant delay of Italy compared to the so-called “Innovation Leader” countries.

While in the indicators “Public-Private Collaborations” (crucial for transforming research into commercial applications), “Attractiveness of Research Systems” and “Digital Skills of the Population”, Italy is positioned well below the EU average.

In the Top 5 for Corporate Investment in R&D we find Germany followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark and France. Finland also ranks first among the European Union countries in the indicators “Digitalization” and “Digital Skills”, while Denmark is the most innovative country.

The report then compares European results with the rest of the world where the South Korea Remains Most Innovative Global Competitor in 2024outpacing the EU by 21.1 percentage points. Canada, the United States and Australia are ahead of the EU, similar to 2023. China has shown a significant increase in innovation performance, growing significantly more than anyone since 2017 (+28.2 percentage points), has overtaken Japan and is catching up with the EU.

By Editor