Blog Innovation Trending

Silicon Europe – Innovation Policies in Europe

Silicon Europe – Innovation Policies in Europe

Whilst there has been a great deal of attention of national innovation policies focused on the role of corporatism in developing national innovation policies, it is also vitally important explore the ways in which liberal market economies pursue innovation policy, such as the case of the UK and Ireland in the context of more general Innovation Policies in Europe. Outlined in Ornston is the proposal  that liberal economies such as the UK & U.S are much more adequately placed to deal with innovation and it’s effects. By having equity markets that are best placed to channel financial resources to innovative firms, and with deregulated labour markets, they are typically characterised by highly agile workforces which allows firms to mobilise resources much more efficiently. We can however see the proliferation of liberalising measures on financial resources materialising in competitive corporatist systems such as those in the Netherlands and Ireland.

In many states which are affected by significant industry shock, and where a history of a form of corporatism and co-operation exist there is an incentive to take a creative corporatism approach, by investing in supply side capacity, states can begin the process to adapt to a changing global marketplace by ensuring that the state as a facilitator and as a supporter (through co-operative research) can assist in addressing the problems posed by such significant changes.

When we begin to explore the data available on the business side of the innovation policy framework, and indeed build on the work of (Cunningham and Link, 2016) who explored using the AEGIS database on innovation, where a number of firms were regularly surveyed, outlined the areas in which businesses are more responsive too, we can see that firms particularly favour support for venture capital, and direct collaborative R&D efforts as the main constituents roles of a states innovation policy which supports them.

What we can begin to see in the literature available, is the idea that one of the most important ways in which a state can support innovation is through joint public-private research and development spending, as outlined in (Cunningham and Link, 2016) states that invest significantly in public-private research and development partnership are associated with a high level of innovation performance alongside a strong contributing performance of trade in technology to national GDP , this is commonly used as an indicator of innovation performance in a state.

However, it would be a substantial misgiving to explore the ways in which states in Europe pursue their innovation policy, if one was to fail to account for the ways in which the European Union has impacted on the approaches and frameworks in which innovation policy can exist. Previously we have explored the ways in which various European states pursue innovation, and indeed the ways in which it is funded, it can be seen that there is significant divergence in terms of the approaches pursued.

Indeed (Schepers, 2013) proposes that a substantial misgiving in the Lisbon program, which had its heart the intention to make the European Union “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” was undermined by as stated by (Schepers, 2013) that the Lisbon program relied too much on the goodwill of Member States, which in turn was heavily influenced by national economic and welfare reform capabilities and, not least, by electoral circumstances. We can also see that the notion of competition within EU member states on areas of innovation policy can incur significant wasteful spending, an overlap in focuses that would make better use of resources if undertaken collaboratively alongside regulatory stress within the European Union.

Indeed the work of (Prange, 2004) seeks to view the EU as a facilitator of transnational policy learning and that to evaluate the role of Europe we must explore the role of regionalisation of innovation, indeed (Olsson and Åström, 2003) have argued that “Europeanization often triggers off processes of regionalization”. This is important, as if we look at the bottom-up reverse of this, and that a national best practice should become the European best practice it must be ‘generic’, and remain independent of the institutional, sectoral and geographical context.

We have however begun to see a recent proliferation of groups at the European level that seek to develop a coherent and co-ordinated policy approach to innovation across member states. This can be seen in the development of advisory bodies and co-ordination mechanisms across a number of European Union institutions, there is however within these groups significant overlap in terms of responsibilities and areas in which there could be increased harmonisation, this can lead to a process where there is substantial divergence in terms of the approaches favoured, and followed by various stakeholders in the supranational level of innovation policy making.

Similarly as outlined by (Schepers, 2013) it is a requirement of the governance mechanisms of an institution such as the EU which has a large part to play in the ways in which members states can seek to build towards a co-ordinated and common innovation policy, with (Schepers, 2013) stating that “the governance methodology of the EU dates from the 1950s and is thus as up-to-date as a typewriter.” outlining the need for reform in the overarching governance institutions of the European Union so as not impinge upon the respective policy approaches taken by the various member states. It is within this context in which we can evaluate innovation policy across Europe.

In conclusion we can see that across Europe there is diversity in terms of the approaches taken to pursue innovation at the policy level. We can also see the role in which the European Union plays on supporting or impeding the development of innovation policies across Europe and how this can impact upon policy outcomes across member states. When it comes to evaluating the approaches taken across Europe it is important to consider the classification of the variety of innovation policies utilised across Europe proposed by (Ornston, 2012) and the way in which the variations in the corporatist systems can impact upon the performance and proliferation of innovations and more broadly the role of the state in shaping and developing innovation policy outcomes.

The divergence in policy outcomes is heavily influenced by a variety of institutions at the local, regional, national and supranational levels. This can be seen the context of the growing body of literature that seeks to explore innovation policy and it’s affiliated outcomes across a multitude of European regions, and seeks to explain the role institutions at these varying levels have on policy outcomes on Innovation Policies in Europe.


Jason Deegan

Jason Deegan is a PhD Candidate (Stipendiat) and research fellow at the University of Stavanger. His work primarily focuses on; Innovation, Regional Studies, Smart Specialisation and Policy.

Leave a Reply