According to the 2022 European Innovation Scoreboard, the innovation performance of most of the countries in the Danube Valley is below or well below the EU average. Germany and Austria are strong innovators, performing above the EU average, while Czechia and Slovenia come out as moderate innovators. Finally, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia rank as emerging Innovators. Territorial disparities in several innovation performance indicators related to innovation activities and R&D expenditure in the Danube region pose a significant threat to its transition to a greener and smarter economy.
Data assessments corroborate that the Danube region has a sizable innovation gap to close with respect to its Western and Northern European counterparts in terms of both its aggregate innovation performance and at a more granular level. The GLOBSEC benchmarking tool, the CEE Strategic Transformation Index, the European Innovation Scoreboard and other rankings feature comprehensive metrics covering education outcomes and conditions, human capital quality, number of researchers, citations, the share of knowledge-intensive firms in total, innovation performance indicated by patents and designs, and access and volume of financial capital, including venture capital.
The aggregate outcomes of these indicators speak uniformly across sources, attesting to below-average innovation performance in the region. All of Europe is now undergoing a major transformation driven by challenges linked to climate change and the digital revolution, supported by the European Green Deal. Therefore, the ability to innovate will be critical for competitiveness at the EU, national and local levels. The utilisation of funds from the recovery plan after the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique historical opportunity for the Danube valley to deeply transform its growth paradigm. The countries along the Danube River can harness the power of tech-driven innovation and set the region on the path to becoming a trendsetter instead of a trend follower, especially in the novel area of climate technologies.
How? Read the report below to find out!