Globalization, digitalization, and the necessary push toward a more ecologically sustainable economy are transforming the economic landscape and shaping the new rules for global competition. EU economic policy has therefore to face a more and more complex environment: an economic situation more intertwined with other economic partners in global value chains, with technological innovation and with the need of our planet. To achieve long term EU objectives in term of productivity, growth and job market performances, there is the need to develop optimal policies in a complex environment. To achieve this, the Science for Policy mission of the Joint Research Centre has to adapt its nature too, developing internal capabilities to address such issues.
In January 2019 we started a novel institutional activity to use the instruments of the Economic Complexity framework to help addressing policy relevant themes in territorial development and industrial innovation and competitiveness. Economic Complexity is the natural continuation of earlier evolutionary and institutional economics, using however advancement in network science and complex and dynamical systems to separate the random noise from the underlying signal. By doing so it allows shifting the focus of quantitative economic analysis toward research questions that are traditionally tackled either qualitatively or with ad hoc quantitative measures.