Innovation in Portugal European Innovation Scoreboard

Innovation in Portugal and Comparison with the European Union

To assess the innovation situation in Portugal, the annual European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) report, made available by European Comission, bases his study on four criteria:

  • Structural conditions
  • Investments
  • Innovation activities
  • Impacts

These criteria in turn include 12 dimensions e 32 indicators distributed across these dimensions.

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Measuring Innovation in Portugal – European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS)

Let us analyze the 12 dimensions and 32 indicators, aggregated in the mentioned criteria, comparing Portugal's performance with the European Union (EU) and the global innovation score in Portugal in relation to the EU average.

In the following table, the global innovation index has the code zero (0.0.0.) with 3 digits, the dimensions with zero in the last digit and the indicators with the last digit starting with 1.

The table is dynamic and can therefore be sorted by simply clicking on the desired column.

Innovation in Portugal and comparison with the European Union 2023; Source: European Innovation Scoreboard
Custom codeIndicatorsDenmark DKGermany DEPortugal PTUE% PT vs EU%PT vs DE%PT vs DK
0.0.0Global Innovation Index149.2127.892.9108.5-14%-27%-38%
1.1.0Human Resources166.794.1104.294.410%11%-37%
1.1.1New doctorates111.4122.977.177.10%-37%-31%
1.1.2Population aged between 25 and 34 years old, with higher education145.574.3118.0103.614%59%-19%
1.1.3Continuous lifelong training287.970.3133.0112.119%89%-54%
1.2.0Attractive research and development systems207.5119.3139.2109.527%17%-33%
1.2.1International scientific co-publications392.0134.2196.0142.637%46%-50%
1.2.2Scientific publications among the 10% most cited121.3101.784.195.5-12%-17%-31%
1.2.3Foreign PhD students as a % of total PhD students233.1145.9212.6110.692%46%-9%
1.3.1Broadband penetration190.3134.5187.3132.741%39%-2%
1.3.2People with above-basic digital knowledge148.666.1109.3100.09%65%-26%
2.1.0Finance and support136.4111.9110.4121.9-9%-1%-19%
2.1.1R&D investment in the public sector151.6148.483.9103.2-19%-43%-45%
2.1.2Venture capital investment192.7128.864.4148.1-56%-50%-67%
2.1.3Direct and indirect government support for business R&D investment56.043.9195.5119.863%346%249%
2.2.0Business investments124.4152.757.4108.8-47%-62%-54%
2.2.1R&D expenses in the business sector130.8156.971.5110.8-35%-54%-45%
2.2.2Non-R&D innovation expenses103.3135.865.4101.7-36%-52%-37%
2.2.3Innovation expenses per person employed137.3163.936.1113.3-68%-78%-74%
2.3.0Use of information technologies160.4129.4109.0107.12%-16%-32%
2.3.1Enterprises providing ICT training180.3142.0118.5110.87%-17%-34%
2.3.1Employed ICT specialists141.4117.2100.0103.4-3%-15%-29%
3.1.1SME product/process innovations152.3166.5114.8126.7-9%-31%-25%
3.1.2SME Marketing/Organizational Innovations176.1230.0164.4153.87%-29%-7%
3.2.1Innovative SMEs collaborating with others161.8149.463.8126.8-50%-57%-61%
3.2.2Public-private co-publications606.5244.5192.2129.648%-21%-68%
3.2.3Mobility between Human Resources jobs in Science and Technology255.9200.0147.1141.24%-26%-43%
3.3.0Intellectual assets125.7112.070.691.8-23%-37%-44%
3.3.1Patent registration, International Patent System (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT)127.6124.646.190.5-49%-63%-64%
3.3.2Trademark applications123.5116.2117.8109.97%1%-5%
3.3.3Design applications125.192.964.679.3-19%-30%-48%
4.1.0Impacts on employment116.4138.6102.9107.9-5%-26%-12%
4.1.1Employment in knowledge-intensive activities120.5101.289.2100.0-11%-12%-26%
4.1.2Employment in innovative companies112.6174.1115.9115.50%-33%3%
4.2.0Impacts on sales106.9116.676.599.3-23%-34%-28%
4.2.1Export of medium and high technology products77.5112.059.599.3-40%-47%-23%
4.2.2Export of knowledge-intensive services128.7122.162.091.4-32%-49%-52%
4.2.3Sales of innovations, new to the market or companies125.2116.9120.9108.911%3%-3%
4.3.0Environmental sustainability132.8124.528.6102.7-72%-77%-78%
4.3.1Resource productivity81.9159.261.4126.1-51%-61%-25%
4.3.2Atmospheric emissions of fine particles136.8129.50.0104.4-100%-100%-100%
4.3.3Technologies related to the environment162.295.440.185.0-53%-58%-75%

According to these indicators, innovation in Portugal positions it among the countries “moderately innovative”, With a rating of 92,9.

Based on this information, the 2023 European Innovation Scoreboard highlights, of the 12 dimensions, those with the highest score in Portugal:

  • Scan (1.3.0): 148,9
  • Compelling research and development systems (1.2.0): 139,2
  • Innovators (3.1.0): 138,8

In the field of Digitalization, Portugal has a higher performance than the EU, 148,9, with the average being 116,6.

Os indicators where Portugal scores particularly well are:

  • Foreign doctoral students as a % of total doctoral students (1.2.3): 212,6
  • International scientific co-publications (1.2.1): 196,0
  • Direct and indirect government support for business R&D investment (2.1.3): 195,5

On the other hand, dimensions in which Portugal has a lower score are, in this order:

  • Environmental sustainability (4.3.0): 28,6
  • Business investments (2.2.0): 57,4
  • Intellectual assets (3.3.0): 70,6

And finally, the indicators with the lowest scores in Portugal are:

  1. Atmospheric emissions of fine particles (4.3.2): 0
  2. Investment in innovation per person employed (2.2.3): 36,1
  3. Technologies related to the environment (4.3.3): 40,1
  4. Patent registration, International Patent System (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT) (3.3.1): 46,1

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Innovation in Portugal

According to the aforementioned report, Portugal is a Moderate Innovator with a performance below the EU average but with a slight progression between 2016 and 2023 of 9.1% (85,151 to 92,884) in relation to the EU, whose score grew by 8,5% ( 100 to 108,467).

However, the country's performance gap with the EU is becoming wider.

In 2016 the difference was 8,5 points (100-85,151) points and in 2023 there is a difference of 15,6 points (108,467-92,884).

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In summary and according to the Innovation Profile in Portugal referred to in the report:

Strong points

  • Foreign PhD students as a % of total PhD students
  • Government support for business R&D
  • Public-private co-publications
  • Broadband penetration
  • International scientific co-publications

Performance weaknesses

  • Atmospheric emissions by fine particles
  • Innovation spending per employee
  • Venture Capital Expenses
  • Technologies related to the environment
  • Resource productivity

Strong increases since 2016

  • Foreign PhD students as a % of total PhD students
  • Government support for business R&D
  • Public-private co-publications

Strong falls since 2016

  • Technologies related to the environment
  • Design applications
  • Venture Capital Expenses

Strong increases since 2022

  • Product and process innovators in SMEs
  • Employment in innovative companies
  • Government support for business R&D

Strong falls since 2022

  • Mobility between Science and Technology Human Resources jobs
  • Population with higher education
  • Innovative SMEs that collaborate with others
  • The comparative evolution of the indicator follows a growth trend.

The classification of the 27 EU Member States

The European Innovation Scoreboard classifies member states into the following groups:

Leaders in Innovation

They are those with a Global Innovation Index score 125% above the EU average.

There are five countries in this group, Denmark which rises to the top, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The Strong Innovators

This is the group whose scores are between 125% and 100% of the EU average. There are 6 countries located here, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus and France.

The Moderate Innovators

These are those with a Global Innovation Index score between 100% and 70% of the EU average.

There are 10 countries in this group, Estonia, Slovakia, Czechia, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Lithuania, Greece and Hungary.

Innovation in Portugal reached its maximum in 2020, with a score of 97.

Emerging Innovators

The remaining 6 countries are below 70% of the EU average, Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania.

According to the aforementioned report, the main structural differences of Portugal in relation to the EU are as follows:

  • Portugal has a lower per capita income, but faster economic growth. Industry and business services occupy a larger share of the economy.
  • Business creation, entrepreneurial activity and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) contribute positively to the innovation climate; large investors in Research and Development (R&D) and buyer sophistication contribute negatively.
  • Portugal has higher percentages of innovative and non-innovative internal business processes with potential to innovate.
  • Business training is below the EU, while public procurement is above the EU average, boosting research and innovation.
  • Portugal presents a mixed performance in relation to climate change indicators, with a below-average share in terms of material resources coming from recycled materials

The Innovation Path in Portugal

As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured, gets managed” (you can't manage without measuring what you're managing).

Even at the risk of the indicators developed by the European Innovation Scoreboard not being an absolute truth, it is better to have information that gives us some guidance in relation to reality, than not to have any information. In the words of Warren Buffett, "It is better to be approximately right than to be precisely wrong."

With Portugal in the group of Moderate Innovators, what can we do to continue improving our performance?

Can we analyze what our European partners are doing and, in particular, what are the indicators of the European leader?

The European leader in Innovation is Denmark with a score of 149,2, with Portugal having a score of 92,9, a difference of 38%.

Let us check the biggest differences between Portugal and Denmark, in some dimensions, according to the aforementioned European Innovation Scoreboard – EIS.

In the dimension of Human Resources (1.1.0) Portugal has a 37% difference compared to Denmark.

From what we can conclude from the analysis, a big boost that we can all give is to invest in continuous formation (1.1.3) throughout life. There is a huge difference, 54%, between Portugal and Denmark. And, in this chapter, we all know that knowledge changes at a great speed and what we learned at school after a few years is outdated.

Professional experience is very important and can only be acquired by working. However, all the new knowledge that is being acquired cannot be forgotten, because it will enrich our capacity to innovate and produce.

Companies must make a strong commitment to training new skills for your employees, whether technical or behavioral. Likewise, they cannot wait for training to be offered to them either.

It is necessary to study and enhance yourself, using the various possibilities available today, from books, ebooks, e-learning, short seminars or specialized courses, in areas that are considered important for your appreciation.

In the dimension of business investments (2.2.0), we can see a notable difference in the innovation expenses per person employed (2.2.3) Portugal has a difference of 74% to Denmark!

Support is welcome as the skills and knowledge of both employees and of entrepreneurs are important. If the entrepreneur does not have certain knowledge, he must surround himself with professionals who do, in order to help boost innovation and the production of new ideas, thus transforming them into new products and services.

In the field of Interconnections (3.3.0) we are 57% different from Denmark. In all indicators our position is much lower. We need our companies to collaborate more with public entities, not only co-financing public investment, but also associating with each other, collaborating with laboratories, research and teaching centers so that new ideas, products and services can emerge.

This collaboration can enhance the patent registration (3.3.1) by the International Patent System (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT) in which the public sector can also collaborate, facilitating this registration with support for this investment. Portugal has an indicator that is 64% lower than Denmark, although the number of patents is growing in Portugal!

Also, in the area of ​​environmental sustainability (4.3.0) our score is 78% lower than Denmark's and another one of the points in which we need to improve.

There are only two indicators in which Portugal's classification surpasses Denmark's, employment in innovative companies (4.1.2) and direct and indirect government support for business R&D investment (2.1.3)

We will continue this journey, innovating and adding value to our economy.

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