Reports Reports

How to survive an economic crisis? Lessons from the innovation profiles of EU regions

Andrea Filippetti, Petros Gkotsis, Antonio Vezzani, Antonio Zinilli
May 2019

Whereas the European project has long been described as a ‘convergence machine', the recent economic crisis has halted convergence in certain dimensions, and triggered divergence in others.

By exploiting a dataset that includes patents, trademarks and design registrations at the regional level (NUTS2) in the period 2007-2016, this report aims to identify the different innovation profiles of European regions. Moreover, we also investigate to what extent the innovation profiles of regions have contributed to their resistance to the shock brought by the 2008 economic crisis, as well as their paths of economic recovery in the aftermath of the crisis.

Innovation did help to sustain employment both during the economic downturn as well as in the aftermath. The most resilient regions are those that have a strong performance in the three intellectual property rights (IPRs) analysed; patents, trademarks and design. This suggests the presence of comparative advantages for those regional innovation systems which couple technology-intensive innovation in manufacturing with a strong service-intensive sector.

Evidence also suggests that European regions should no longer be divided into the advanced regions in the West and the lagging-behind regions in the East. There is a group of regions in Eastern countries that is consistently improving its innovation performance, while growing disparities in innovation arise within the EU-15 countries.

Assessing the innovation capability of EU companies in developing dual use technologies

Federico Caviggioli, Antonio De Marco, Giuseppe Scellato
December 2018

This study proposes a framework to identify and analyse the European defence innovation ecosystem and to investigate the relevance of dual use inventions, extending previous empirical approaches. 63,714 defence inventions in the decade 2002-2012 were analysed by taking several dimensions into consideration: time, geography, technology, type of innovator. The main findings indicate an increasing trend of patented inventions covering a wide range of technological fields not only in the traditional defence areas, but also in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and in instruments for measurement and control. The innovations seem to be quite concentrated: the twenty largest patent holders (firms and government agencies) account for 40% of total defence inventions. The largest geographical source of innovations is the USA, but South Korea has increased significantly in recent years. Dual use innovations, i.e. military patents subsequently cited by a civilian invention, are identified using a novel method employing patent citations. The proportion of dual use inventions in the whole dataset is 41%, but the value has been decreasing in recent years and shows heterogeneity across technological sectors and geographical areas (the USA reports the highest share, 63.9%). Analysis of knowledge flows suggests significant heterogeneity in the share of intra-border innovations: the European defence innovations are largely cited by US inventions, especially when considering dual use cases.

R&D and innovation activities in companies across Global Value Chains

Els Van de Velde, Vincent Duchêne, Annelies Wastyn, Dieter Somers, Lidia Nuñez Lopez, Norbert Malanowski, Karsten Reuss
November 2018

The objective of the study is to better understand the geographical and organizational patterns of corporate R&D and innovation across Global Value Chains (GVCs) and their interactions with home and host-countries' economies and policy initiatives. In addition, a better understanding of the drivers and barriers to improving the location of high-value creation and knowledge-intensive activities in Europe and the competitive position of EU industry in strategic GVCs is aimed for.

EU regions and the upgrading for the digital age

Antonio Vezzani, Emanuele Pugliese, Petros Gkotsis
November 2018

 In this work we use patent data from the European patent office (EPO) to assess the capabilities of EU regions in developing digital technologies especially focusing on those that are more closely related to the digital transformation. More specifically, we measure ICT patents by considering those containing digital codes, as defined by the OECD. The penetration of digital technologies in the development of innovative products is instead captured by the co-occurrence of digital and non-digital codes within patent documents; we call these patents ICT-combining patents.

Smart Specialisation, seizing new industrial opportunities

Antonio Vezzani, Marco Baccan, Alina Candu, Alessio Castelli, Mafini Dosso, Petros Gkotsis
November 2017

This study offers a novel analytical approach to inform the regional search for new industrial opportunities, as promoted by Smart Specialisation within the EU Cohesion policy context. The analysis departs from the challenges of practicing Smart Specialisation and its entrepreneurial discovery process in a dynamic perspective. It argues that the adoption of a dynamic approach to identify new opportunities implies mapping regional business and innovation assets as well as, assessing their position within the global technological and industrial landscape. The report brings a case study of the Lombardy region business environment, spurring from the S3 Lab initiative (in collaboration with Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia and Lapland), together with a comparative analysis focusing on technological development. The empirical study combines patent data from OECD REGPAT and territorial proprietary micro-data from Lombardy region on firm creation in emerging industries (EI) – new industrial sectors or existing sectors evolving into new industries (European Cluster Observatory). These industries represent a priority area for Lombardy's innovation-led development strategy. The initial observations confirm the importance of such industries in the region; they represent more than one-third of employment, almost a half of the regional value-added and feature together the majority of innovative start-ups, suggesting the relevance of the regional strategic development choices. Also, in terms of productive advantages, Lombardy ranks high in some key EI. The mapping of technological competences through patent indicators measuring specialisation, diversification and the ability to specialise in fast-growing and niche fields gives relevant insights on the technological potential of the region, providing further guidance for better targeted interventions.

The impact of multinational R&D spending firms on job polarization and mobility

Jacob R. Holm, Bram Timmermans, Christian R. Østergaard
November 2017

This report analyses the role of multinational R&D intensive firms in job polarization. It also investigates how these firms affect the labour market in terms of wage growth and labour mobility.
Firms appearing on the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard account for a significant share of economic activity in Denmark measured by employment, innovation activity, and R&D expenditures. Domestic firms listed on the scoreboard are the largest and most innovative, but subsidiaries of foreign scoreboard firms are still larger and more innovative compared to non-scoreboard firms.
Relying on information from register data the report demonstrates that R&D spending among scoreboard firms is a complement to high skill jobs, while it substitutes low skill jobs. Thus, scoreboard firms are more involved in upgrading than polarization. Organisational change has an effect similar to that of R&D, while there is indication that innovation is a complement for low skilled jobs. Labour flows, particularly of high skilled workers, are stronger among scoreboard firms than between scoreboard firms and other firms. Thus, labour flows in networks instead of appearing in labour market pools, and non-scoreboard firms are kept out of the "knowledge spill-over" loops, providing them with fewer opportunities to learn from the scoreboard firms.

World Corporate Top R&D Investors: Industrial Property Strategies in the Digital Economy

Taro Daiko, Hélène Dernis, Mafini Dosso, Petros Gkotsis, Mariagrazia Squicciarini and Antonio Vezzani
September 2017

The speed, scale and scope of the digital transformation make it hard to fully apprehend the breadth and depth of the changes brought about by this new technological paradigm. Such a difficult exercise is nevertheless fundamental for evidence-based policies aiming at addressing the challenges and leveraging the opportunities that going digital may offer, while making the digital transformation societally enhancing and inclusive.

The present report constitutes an effort in this respect and looks at the innovation-related investment and activities performed by market leaders worldwide to identify their technological trajectories. It shines a new light on the digital transformation and on the strategies pursued by top innovators worldwide to generate knowledge and to appropriate the returns from their knowledge-based investment through industrial property (IP) rights. Special attention is devoted to uncovering the extent to which information and communication technologies and activities are diffusing and have been adopted by actors operating in other technological and economic domains.

To access the EC-JRC/OECD COR&DIP© database, v.1. 2017 (raw data provided in flat files), please fill in the on-line form at: Access to COR&DIP©

Advanced Manufacturing Activities of Top R&D investors: Geographical and Technological Patterns

Petros Gkotsis and Antonio Vezzani
November 2016

This study builds upon and extends results that were obtained in the context of the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Competitiveness AMTEC project, in which the technological profiles of the patent portfolios of the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard companies were constructed using patent-based analysis.

The main questions addressed by this study were (1) In which countries are the most important inventors of AMTs and applicants for AMT-related patents located? (2) Is it possible to analyse internationalisation patterns and knowledge flows between world regions and countries? and (3) Are there any special patterns and clusters between AMT related technological fields and the five core KETs and, if so, which companies are responsible for the development of these technological applications?

Estimating territorial business R&D expenditures using corporate R&D and patent data

Petros Gkotsis, Hector Hernandez and Antonio Vezzani
November 2016

This note describes a methodology to estimate territorial business R&D expenditures funded by the business sector, using R&D and patent data from top R&D investing companies. Since company data are available with a short delay, the aim is to provide timelines estimations for business R&D in anticipation of its publication by official statistics. The estimation is made for worldwide industrial R&D expenditures, breaking down figures for main world regions and focusing on the EU and its top member states. The industrial coverage comprises main innovative industries, focusing on manufacturing and knowledge intensive services.

The Distribution of Technological Activities in Europe: A Regional Perspective

Rinaldo Evangelista, Valentina Meliciani and Antonio Vezzani
August 2016

This study analyses the major patterns and trends in the spatial distribution of technological capacities in the EU area over the 1996-2011 period, adopting a regional perspective. More specifically, the study aims at: a) assessing the level of technological polarization in the EU area and its dynamics; b) highlighting major changes in the patterns of technological specialization of EU regions; c) identifying the technological trajectories that have been more effective, that is able to sustain long-term economic growth and facilitate catching-up processes of EU laggard regions.

The Specialisation of EU Regions in Fast Growing and Key Enabling Technologies

Rinaldo Evangelista, Valentina Meliciani and Antonio Vezzani
November 2015

In the context of the Europe 2020 objective of establishing in the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, European regions have been called to design and implement national and regional 'Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation' (RIS3). The rationale behind the concept of smart specialisation is that, in a context of global competition for talent and resources, most regions can only acquire a real competitive edge by finding niches or by mainstreaming new technologies into traditional industries and exploiting their ‘smart' regional potential.

Although the most promising way for a region to promote its knowledge-based growth is to diversify into technologies, products and services that are closely related to existing dominant technologies and the regional skills base, the European Commission puts special emphasis on a set of technologies labelled as 'Key Enabling Technologies' (KETs). Despite the great emphasis on KETs, there is only very limited evidence on the capability of EU regions to specialise in these fields and there are no studies directly investigating the actual impact of these technologies on regional innovation and economic growth. This report aims at filling these gaps by: i) looking at the relationship between KETs and 'Fast Growing Technologies' (FGTs); ii) providing empirical evidence on the EU regional specialisation in KETs and FGTs; iii) relating technological specialisation to regional innovation and economic growth. In particular, the report aims at answering these questions: 1) Which technologies have emerged as the fastest growing ones in the recent decades? 2) Is there a relationship between fast growing technologies and KETs? 3) Which regions are specialised in FGTs and KETs? 4) Are there convergence and polarization phenomena observable in the evolution of EU regions' innovative activities in fast growing technologies and KETs? 5) Do EU regions specialized in fastest growing technological fields and key enabling technologies exhibit higher innovation and economic performances?

The main results of the report can be summarised as follows. First, only a small share of KETs are also fast growing technologies, although the degree of overlapping between KETs and FGTs varies substantially across different KETs fields. Second, while KETs are concentrated in Central Europe, FGTs prevail in Scandinavian countries and the UK. Third, while there is evidence of some regional convergence in KETs and, to a less extent, in FGTs, spatial correlation increases over time, showing that diffusion often occurs across contiguous regions. Finally, the results of the estimations of the effects of FGTs and KETs on innovation (patents) and economic (GDP per capita) growth show that only specialisation in KETs directly affects economic growth, while specialisation in FGTs has an impact on growth only indirectly, that is through its impact on regions' innovation performances. Overall, these results confirm the pervasive and enabling role of KETs pointing to the importance for European regions to target these technologies as part of their RIS3 strategies.

The capability of the EU R&D Scoreboard companies to develop Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

Petros Gkotsis
May 2015

The aim of this study is to provide empirical evidence at the firm level about the role of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMTs) and Key Enabling Technologies (KETS) and the impact of innovation in these technologies on the efficiency and productivity of companies across various industrial sectors using data from the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard (the Scoreboard). The principal aim of this report is to describe the profile of the patent portfolios of the companies in the Scoreboard, to link their innovation output to input in terms of R&D expenditures and to draw useful conclusions about the policy implications at the level of the EU Member States. The data source for the input is the 2013 edition of the Scoreboard and the outputs and patent applications and further patent-related indicators at the transnational level from the Worldwide Patent Statistical Database (PATSTAT). The focus is on the firm-level data and the basic questions addressed are as follows: What firms are responsible for most of the patent filings in AMTs and KETs and which are the main industrial sectors responsible for patent filings within the two technology fields? Where have the R&D activities taken place? Which countries and which sectors are most actively inventing AMTs and KETs? Among companies in the Scoreboard there is a correlation between R&D expenditure and investment in innovation and innovation output, as measured by KET- and AMT-related transnational patent filings.

World Corporate Top R&D Investors: Innovation and IP bundles

Hélène Dernis, Mafini Dosso, Fernando Hervás, Valentine Millot, Mariagrazia Squicciarini and Antonio Vezzani
March 2015

This report presents original data and statistics on the innovation output of world top corporate R&D investors. Essentially descriptive in nature, it presents statistics about the technological profiles of companies, their trademark strategies for new products and services and about the extent to which these two forms of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are bundled to protect and appropriate the returns from investment in knowledge-based assets. The report provides interesting insights about the innovation strategies of this sample of world leading corporate R&D investors and opens the door to further research and analysis about companies' global strategies for knowledge development and exploitation. The main target audience of this report is the policy and research communities, as well as analysts with an interest in supporting evidence-based policy making in the area of innovation and industrial policies.

This joint EC-OECD report builds on the efforts to collect up-to-date, reliable and comparable company data on the top corporate R&D investors worldwide carried-out by the European Commission since 2004 (the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard publication) and on the solid knowledge and experience of the OECD in developing and providing robust and state of the art indicators on science, technology and industry (see for example OECD's STI Scoreboard publications).

To access the EC-JRC/OECD COR&DIP© database, v.0. 2015  (raw data provided in flat files), please fill in the on-line form at: Access to COR&DIP©

How do companies 'perceive' their intangibles? New statistical evidence from the INNOBAROMETER 2013

Sandro Montresor, Giulio Perani and Antonio Vezzani
February 2014

The report provides a statistical analysis of the way European companies have shown to perceive their Intangibles in the recent Innobarometer 2013. The report is intended to complement the evidence presented in the FLASH EUROBAROMETER 369 ("Investing in Intangibles") with a deeper investigation of both the characteristics of the available micro-data and the regularities emerging from their statistical analysis. A special focus is placed on the extent to which companies perceive their intangibles as strategic and on that to which the relative investment interplay with their innovative projects. The role of context conditions vs. that of business incentives in motivating their intangible investments is also addressed.

The patenting activity of the top IRI Scoreboard Companies: an introductory note

Antonio Vezzani, Fabio Montobbio, Sandro Montresor and Gianluca Tarasconi
January 2014

The present note contains an explorative, introductory analysis of the patenting activity exhibited by the top 100 companies of the IRI Scoreboard, and intends to identify strengths and weaknesses for its possible future extension to the whole Scoreboard. With respect to these companies, patent data are drawn from Patstat, on the basis of which patent families are built up, and crossed with other data on their R&D investments. Both the R&D and the patent applications of the investigated sample of companies increase over time. At the same time, important sector specificities in the R&D-patent relationship have been found. The analysis of the technological competences of the overall sample yields promising results. A first examination of the IPC classes of the patent applications suggests a certain concentration in the kind of technological knowledge that companies master. The analysis of the knowledge base and, more specifically, the companies' involvement in the creation of key enabling technologies (KETs) also highlights that important sector specificities go along with firm-specific factors. All in all, "augmenting" the Scoreboard data with company level patent information appears to be an interesting extension to be pursued.

CONCORDi-2013 Summary Report

Pietro Moncada-Paternò-Castello, Fernando Hervás, Sandro Montresor and Antonio Vezzani
December 2013

The report intends to summarise the main results of the CONCORDi-2013 Conference. Section 1 introduces the rationale and the objectives of the Conference; section 2 summarises the contribution of the keynote speakers; section 3 and 4 sum up the main results of the Parallel Sessions; session 5 introduces the Best Paper Awards, whereas section 6 briefly reports on the discussion made by the policy stakeholders. Finally, section 7 recapitulates the main conclusions.

Measuring the internationalisation of EU corporate R&D: a novel complementary use of statistical sources

Claudio Cozza
October 2010

The report summarises the main results of a research activity aimed at testing a novel approach for the measurement of EU business R&D internationalisation. Such approach is based on the complementary use of two different sources of data: on the one hand, statistical data from private R&D expenditure taken from national surveys (BERD); on the other hand, data collected from companies' annual reports and accounts (as in the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard).

The main objectives of the study were:

  • To explore the methodological rationale for comparing the two sets of data;
  • To test the robustness of the novel methodology through an analysis applied to four EU countries (Belgium, Finland, Germany and Italy);
  • To provide indications of possible further research and follow up activities.