NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 13, 2008

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

One measure is the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), a survey of "innovation indicators and trend analyses," put together by the European Commission.  According to the 2007 EIS, the gap between the United States and the European Union (EU) has declined in recent years, but America still leads in most categories.  For example:

  • Of the 15 possible indicators measured by the EIS, the United States performs better than the European Union in 11 indicators, while the European Union scores above the United States in 4 indicators.
  • Although the United States leads the EU in 11 indicators, on 9 of those indicators the United States is outperformed by at least one European country.
  • The only two indictors on which the United States outperforms all other European countries are tertiary education and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patents.
  • Sweden is the single most innovative country, as a result of its strength in innovation inputs.

Still, in several crucial areas the EU-U.S. gap remains sizeable:

  • The gross domestic product (GDP) share of early-stage venture capital is more than 50 percent higher in the United States than the European Union.
  • There is a large gap between the United States and the European Union in business R&D expenditures, 1.17 percent of EU GDP as compared to 1.87 percent in the United States, which has not decreased; in fact, the United States is expanding its lead in public R&D expenditures and high-tech exports.
  • America also leads the rest of the world in patent applications, a key measure of intellectual property.

Source: "Innovation Nation," The American, May/June 2008.

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