Monday, 29 October 2018

Innovation 3.8 over 10: a clear "not passing"

Josep Mª Monguet

Self-deception is the path to regression. A few years ago (in 2006), I was invited to speak at the opening course conference for one of the entities of my university. I spoke about the deficit in innovation observed in Spain, sustained by multiple data. The rector, who spoke later, did his best to deny it using the sole argument that the universities had a large scientific production [1]. It became clear that he didn’t understand the difference between innovation and academic scientific production. Well, ten years later, our country is still the same if not worse. We can continue doing nothing about it, but we must understand that for building an innovative country, the islands of excellence are essential, but not enough.

For years the EU has been calculating the index of innovation by countries and regions. We stagnated in 2006 and we continue to stagnate in 2016. Spain is 62 points below the maximum (Sweden), and 44 points above the minimum (Romania) (table 1). The index is calculated using 27 indicators, and in the last 20 years the Innovation Scoreboard has become an increasingly accurate tool.

Seeing the importance being given to innovation throughout the world, one has the feeling that innovation here, although much is said about it, in practice it doesn’t receive the necessary attention. Specifically, there are 18 indicators the worse of which are dragging us to stagnation, as shown by the following results expressed in percentage difference with respect to the EU average.
  • SMEs do little innovation internally (-72%).
  • Little innovation in product/process (-71%).
  • Very low direct expenditure on innovation (-57%).
  • Few public-private publications (-50%).
  • Little organizational innovation (-50%).
  • Few foreign PhD students (-50%).
  • Lower export of knowledge-intensive services (-48%).
  • Little expense in R & D of the private sector (-47%).
  • Entrepreneurship based on new opportunities (-45%).
  • Few SMEs that collaborate to make innovation (-45%).
  • Little private co-financing of public R + D (-36%).
  • Few patent applications (-35%).
  • Lower level of employment in companies with rapid growth (-34%).
  • Few design requests (-33%).
  • Little expenditure on R & D in the public sector (-28%).
  • Lower export of products with medium-high technologies (-20%).
  • Lower level of employment in knowledge-intensive activities (-15%).
  • Weakness of the learning system throughout life (-14%).
And what about innovation in health?

Currently, the index of innovation isn’t broken down by sector. But if you ask professionals in the health sector, they fully agree with the sentiment of the Innovation Scoreboard. One year ago, a Real Time Delphi on Barriers to Innovation was held. The aggregate assessment of the level of innovation in health averages 2.6 on a scale of 1-6, which roughly corresponds to 4 on the 0-10 scale.

The objective of the Delphi Online study of the PINNTS project [2] is to identify the barriers to innovation in the field of health services and analyze their effects on innovation processes.

In the field of health care, innovation can refer to a new product, service or process that has applicable advantages compared to the current. Increasing innovation is a systemic challenge that, in addition to the talent of professionals, requires the alignment, among others, of financing, governance, purchasing, regulation, etc. models. In summary there’s a lot of work to do! 

Author's notes

[1] The scientific production of the academic world is only one of the 27 indicators of innovation and, on the other hand, it considers only the top 10%.

[2] If you wish to participate in the Delphi Online Study on Barriers to Innovation, send me an email to

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