Best position ever in innovation ranking

Portugal is now a "strongly innovative" country, according to the 2020 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS 2020) [1] released on 23 June. In 2019, Portugal was already the leader of the group of "moderately innovative" countries, and this year it has risen in position and is now part of the group of countries where Germany or France are. Portugal is now the 12th most innovative country in the European Union, having risen 6 places from its position in EIS 2016 (18th place). This is Portugal's best position ever in this ranking and there is a strong convergence with the EU average since 2016.



Portugal's progress in the European innovation ranking (EIS 2006-2020)

Source: ANI, from European Innovation Scoreboard/Innovation Union Scoreboard (2006-2020 reports), European Commission


According to the EIS2020 report, the strengths of the innovation system in Portugal lie in the innovation environment, the attractiveness of the research system and business innovation, dimensions where Portugal is above the EU average. In fact, Portugal is above the EU average in indicators such as scientific publications co-authored with authors outside the EU; broadband penetration in enterprises; the number of international PhD students; registration of Community trademarks; expenditure on non-technological innovation; the percentage of enterprises with ICT training; the percentage of SMEs with product/process innovation, marketing/organisation; the percentage of innovative SMEs collaborating with other SMEs; employment in high-growth companies in innovative sectors.


If we consider Portugal's developments over the past year, we find that Portugal has maintained or improved its relative position in the EU in all dimensions of innovation, except for private innovation funding.



Portugal's relative position in the various dimensions of innovation

Source: ANI, from European Innovation Scoreboard/Innovation Union Scoreboard 2020 and 2019, European Commission


As the main weaknesses, Portugal is below the European average in indicators such as the availability of private venture capital, R&D investment by companies, patenting or exports of knowledge-intensive services.


The EIS 2020 also mentions other important dimensions for the innovation process, with Portugal showing figures above the EU average in indicators such as the birth of new companies and entrepreneurship activities, being in line with the European average in public demand for technologically advanced products and ease of business creation.


The weaknesses of the innovation system identified in EIS 2020 have deserved attention from public policies in Portugal, namely the initiatives included in the National Reform Programme, as well as in the Strategy for Technological and Business Innovation 2018-2030 and the "Science Law", which seek to stimulate a better articulation between companies and entities of the scientific and technological system and the change of the national productive structure to activities with higher added value.


As an example, we can highlight the INTERFACE Programme, which aims at empowering Interface Centres (CIT), cluster dynamics, the creation of Collaborative Laboratories (CoLAB) or the stimulation of collaboration between Portuguese small and medium enterprises with multinationals present in Portugal, through the creation of "supplier clubs". The operationalisation of the priorities of the INTERFACE Programme has been supported by the public policy instruments enshrined in Portugal 2020, namely through measures aimed at investment in business R&D, but also through tax incentives for R&D (SIFIDE).


These good results of Portugal over time reflect the increase in innovation capacity of companies, R&D entities and most of the actors of the National Innovation System, including public entities supporting and promoting R&D and innovation.


The mission of the National Innovation Agency (ANI) is to promote innovation and business R&D, being actively involved in the promotion and implementation of public initiatives that contribute to speeding up the mechanisms of technology transfer and knowledge valorisation in the market, as well as to increase the capacity of companies to absorb and incorporate external technologies and knowledge into their innovation process.


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