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2004 - 2005 Country Reports on innovation policy trends

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The 2004-2005 country reports and country group reports on annual innovation policy trends have been published on the TrendChart website. The 35 reports cover all 25 EU Member States, Romania, Bulgaria, the three associated EFTA countries, Switzerland and Turkey as well as three country groups outside Europe: NAFTA/Brazil, the Asian countries and the MEDA countries.

Drafted by national experts acting as country correspondents for the TrendChart on Innovation in Europe, the reports provide an in-depth analysis of policy trends in 2004-2005 and an assessment of the overall environment for innovation in each country. The reports begin with a critical analysis of the national innovation governance system, describing the nature and function of the most important innovation actors and assessing the efficiency of the structures of the national innovation system. Where appropriate, regional innovation structures are also highlighted. The country reports thus serve as a useful tool to compare the various innovation systems throughout Europe and to show the policy responses of different countries to the innovation challenge.

 

Experiences made in one country can help other countries define their policy mix and find solutions to common problems. The reports therefore also emphasise the importance of policy learning and show how and to what extent different countries take into account past experiences when defining new policies or policy measures ? both within the national innovation system and across Europe. Policy makers are thus encouraged to use innovation policy knowledge from abroad when making political choices at home. The country reports can serve as an important source of information in this context. Building on the analyses of the national innovation systems, the country reports move on to an assessment of the policy developments that have taken place in the reporting period. For each country, recent trends in innovative performance and competitiveness are identified and comparative values for other countries are given in order to determine the country's relative position in Europe and beyond. In this context, reference is made to several international benchmarking studies carried out by the World Economic Forum, the World Bank or the OECD.

 

The impact of such studies, as well as the existing challenges and opportunities in the national innovation systems, often shape the general innovation policy debate in a country. In order to understand the decisions made in each national context, it is necessary to be aware of the current state of the policy debate. The country reports therefore highlight the most important aspects of the national policy debates and point to the most important policy events that have taken place throughout the reporting period. In the final analytical chapter, the reports highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the existing innovation policy mix and assesses whether the measures taken in the past year have been successful in improving the country's innovative performance. It investigates in how far policy responses have been able to respond to the identified challenges and whether stated policy targets have been met. National innovation strategies, which are an important policy document in many countries, are analysed throughout the reports and their impact and effectiveness is assessed. Individual support measures are also examined in the same light. The assessments made in this chapter are not intended as a benchmarking exercise with other (European) countries, though: the analyses primarily establishes how successful national policy measures have been within the national context.

 

The country reports are thus a unique tool combining a comparative analysis of innovation policies in Europe with a snapshot of the current innovation system and an analysis of the effectiveness of innovation policy in each country covered by the TrendChart. The main purpose is not to establish a ranking of European countries with regard to innovation policy, but to highlight existing strengths and weaknesses in the wide variety of national innovation policies. The country reports thus recognise that a working innovation system ? and consequently the analysis thereof - needs to reflect the local circumstances and that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution to all innovation challenges. Nonetheless, many countries are facing similar challenges. Policy learning and exchanges of experience between policy actors can consequently contribute significantly to a comprehensive and successful innovation policy mix. The country reports therefore present examples of best practice that may be interesting for other countries to take into account when studying possibilities for the further developments of their own innovation system. Each country has selected a particularly successful example of good practice in innovation governance and in policy implementation, thus highlighting some of the strengths of its innovation system and inviting policy makers from other countries to consider adapting the presented approaches to their own national circumstances. Examples of best practice from the 2004-2005 country reports include:

 

Stakeholder involvement in Norway: the Norwegian innovation governance system provides for a particularly strong involvement of stakeholders in innovation policy making. This helps to align innovation policy measures more closely to the requirements at the grassroots and generates a more consensual form of policy making. Support to young innovative companies in France: Young SMEs in France can apply for the status of 'Young Innovative Company', which makes enterprises eligible for considerable tax credits to offset R&D expenditure. The measure is specifically designed to help new companies survive the first few years of their existence and addresses two challenges at the same time: the low level of R&D investment in the private sector and the lack of financial support for young enterprises. The process of decentralisation of decision making and externalisation of R&D management in Romania can be considered as a considerable step towards a more coordinated and more efficient policy structure in a country where the concept of a formal innovation policy is relatively new and faces different obstacles than in some of the economically more prosperous EU15 or Nordic countries.

 

The system of 'innovation vouchers' in the Netherlands: A Dutch initiative allowed SMEs to use innovation vouchers worth EUR 7500 each to buy knowledge from (semi-) public R&D institutes and universities in order to improve the commercial exploitation of existing (academic) knowledge in the Netherlands. The national innovation agency exchanged the vouchers received by the knowledge providers against cash payments. Countering policy divergence in Portugal: As in several other countries, innovation policy in Portugal is in the hands of more than one ministry. Against a history of lacking systematic approaches and policy coordination, a new instrument promoting policy convergence has been designed, integrating the interests of both main ministries involved in innovation policy making.

 

All country reports and country group reports can be downloaded from the public TrendChart website at the link above. They are freely available and can be distributed to all interested parties.

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