Geography warp: EU’s persistent research and innovation gap exposed in six charts

Central and eastern European countries continue to lag western neighbours on assessments of the quality of science and innovation results. But on one measure at least, venture capital investment, the gap seems to be closing


The EU wants to forge a seamless, integrated, EU research and innovation area, but the reality remains far from the vision.

Post-communist central and eastern Europe still lags western Europe on the quality of its science and innovation outputs, according to six indicators collected by the European Commission.

Despite reasonable economic growth, the disproportionate impact of the 2008 global financial crisis on the region (marked CEE in the charts below) has seen investment in R&D slow to recover.

That means highly-rated science and innovation in particular - represented as the number of patent applications - is far from flourishing.

The gap may be persistent, but it does not appear to be widening. Investors are beginning to uncover more and more opportunities in CEE (namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia) and east-west venture capital investment rates seem to be converging, as the graphs below illustrate.

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Related subjects: Innovation, Research, Innovation Union Scoreboard, CEE