The European Localized Innovation Observatory (EuroLIO) has come up with an interactive interface to help local authority decision-makers assess how their own area measures up to others in Europe, by delivering comparative information on advances in technological innovation in similar regions.
When it comes to the number of patents registered at European level, the Ile de France region around Paris is out in front. The region is particularly advanced in the domain of medical science. And Rhône-Alpes in the east of France tops the list for the nanotechnology sector. These are among the findings of the European Localized Innovation Observatory (EuroLIO), which were presented during the Innovatives SHS fair, a conference which took place on 16-17 May in Paris focusing on and highlighting the valuable contribution to society made by the social and human sciences. The researchers have built an interactive dashboard providing a breakdown of innovative activity and the public and private players involved, in the various European regions, plus their impact on the ability of a given region to innovate. At the present time, the tool is only available to local authority decision-makers endeavouring to make an overall assessment of their region, as a starting-point for developing strategies for technological innovation.
Interactive dashboard with a range of indicators
In the initial stage in the project, the team gathered individual sets of data -on patents registered, size of populations, employment statistics, etc- from various sources such as the European Patent Office, Eurostat, the OECD, and government ministries. This national-level information was then aggregated at local level on the interactive interface. Currently the project aims to enable the decision-maker to compare different regions, by selecting a ‘panel’ on the screen. Among the various indicators that can be compared are the number of patents registered by sector, together with how this has evolved over time, a region’s demonstrated ability to create new business activities, and its entrepreneurial drivers. The researchers have also incorporated rather less conventional indicators, such as a region’s network of human interaction. “We observe that the ability of both public and private players to create relations, to strengthen connectivity between people, is just as important a factor as the economic resources invested in innovation,” pointed out Corinne Autant-Bernard, a researcher at the University of St-Etienne in south-east France, whom l’Atelier met at the Innovatives SHS fair.
City and cluster assessments coming soon
So decision-makers can use these precise comparisons to review their innovation strategies. However, given the lengthy process of sifting and analysing the data, the results tend to lag present-day reality by a few years. In the ten years leading up to 2009, there was a general trend, initially rising but later falling, in the number of patents registered in Europe. The one exception to the falling trend was Denmark, where the number rose steadily throughout the period. Moreover, the research team has been able to identify, through a different line of investigation which concentrated on R&D, a strong correlation between the resources invested in innovation and the number of patents registered. The next step for EuroLIO will be to provide assessments for individual cities, urban areas, and ‘business clusters’ -geographical groupings of competitive businesses- at European level.