This article was translated by John R. Bopp
This entry may not be one of the most successful we ever publish; it won’t be the most read or the most shared on social media. But, curiously, it’s dealing with one of the most important topics for the future of the Basques. Or rather, one of the most important for guaranteeing a good future for the Basques: Innovation.
The European Commission has published its sixth Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS). Since 2002, this study has provided a comparative evaluation of the effort towards Innovation in 190 regions of the EU, Norway, and Switzerland.
The data are encouraging and worrying at the same time. The data corresponding to the Euroregions that the Land of the Basques finds itself in, namely the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, the Chartered Community of Navarre, and Aquitaine, show a high level of innovation that still doesn’t quite manage to enter the group of Leaders, but rather stays just behind, in the Followers.
As you well know, five minutes after the end of a race, no one remembers the names of those who made up the group of runners-up. If this is so in racing, or in any other facet of life, can you imagine the economic and social differences that there are going to be in ten to fifteen years between the Leading regions and the Followers?
Here at AboutBC, we try, whenever possible, to promote the effort in R&D and Innovation that Basque society is making. It’s an effort that we try to follow closely at the website that has become one of our favorite browser bookmarks, Basque Research. It’s a website founded by the Elhuyar Foundation that defines itself as the website for research, development, and innovation in the Basque Country, and states that its goal is to serve as a bridge between researchers and society (Edit: as of 2017, the website is unfortunately down).
We believe that it’s very necessary to make this effort in R&D and Innovation visible in the media of the Basque Country itself. That is the only way for society to understand the importance of the effort and to learn about the results. Unfortunately, for Basque media outlets, science, research, technology, and innovation are only interesting when they’re “sexy”, or when there’s a free space in the paper or show that can’t be filled with other news or sports.
This information about the Basques’ relative position on the European playing field should be opening lots of questions in parliament; it should be inspiring institutions to commit to stop being runners-up; it should be causing meetings of Basque universities to push and plan together; it should have gotten business associations thinking…yes, it should have gotten all of Basque society thinking.
Because, lest we forget, this information only covers Europe; it doesn’t cover North America or eastern Asia. And those countries, following our racing metaphor, are fast.
Why should we be so worried if we’re almost in the first group? Well, on the one hand, we’ve been in that group since 2006, meaning we’ve put a lot of effort into just treading water. This means we need to pick up the pace to actually move forward. Let’s not forget that the Basque economy is based on Industry, and without Innovation, it’ll simply die out.
On the other hand, and this is a bit more metaphorical (but highly illustrative), we Basques really do know what it means to be the runner-up. It means that we leave the inheritance to the “first” and end up spending our lives dedicating them to others. And really, that’s not a future that calls to us.
This report, the 2014 Regional Innovation Scoreboard by the European Commission, we found thanks to a blog that we find simply brilliant, and highly clarifying. We’re talking about euskadi™, run by Guillermo Dorronsoro, the dean of the Deusto University Business School. The blog’s subtitle is Thought & Made in Euskadi / Pensar y Hacer en Euskadi / Euskadin Pentsatu eta Egina. Can’t be missed, in our opinion.
We’ll leave you with the Commission’s note and a link to the .pdf file.
European Commission – 5/3/2014 – Europa
Europe more innovative but regional differences persist
Europe is closing its innovation gap with the United States and Japan but differences in performance between EU Member States are still high and diminishing only slowly. At a regional level, the innovation gap is widening, with the innovation performance having worsened in almost one fifth of EU regions. These are the main results of the European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014 and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2014. The overall ranking within the EU remains relatively stable, with Sweden at the top, followed by Denmark, Germany and Finland – the four countries that invest most in research and innovation. The countries whose position has improved the most are Portugal, Estonia and Latvia. Overall progress has been driven by the openness and attractiveness of the EU research system as well as business innovation collaboration and the commercialisation of knowledge as measured by licence and patent revenues from abroad. However, growth in public R&D expenditure was offset by a decline in venture capital investment and non-R&D innovation investment in companies.