Geographies in Depth

How can Europe become more innovative?

Nicholas Davis
Professor of Practice, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Visiting Professor in Cybersecurity, UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Geographies in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Innovation is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


What will it take to make Europe more innovative? As the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report has consistently indicated, increasing the quantity, quality and impact of innovation is one of the biggest challenges facing Europe’s economy. And it’s a very interesting challenge indeed – while Europe has six of the top 10 innovative economies in the world, on average the region performs poorly when compared to other key benchmark economies such as the United States, Japan and Korea, while countries such as China are fast catching up to Europe’s innovation levels in terms of capabilities and output of new commercial ideas.

One way of supporting European innovation is to promote entrepreneurs and fast-growing companies, a topic we explored in last year’s report on Fostering Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in Europe, which highlighted the challenge of scaling innovative ideas in a fragmented, regulatory complex regional market where access to growth capital is limited. This report showed that Europe does not have a significant shortage of entrepreneurial talent or ambition – but it does have a shortage of dynamic firms that grow rapidly in both value and employment terms, with entrepreneurs and large businesses increasingly concerned about how they can innovate successfully in today’s highly competitive global markets.


Taking inspiration from its new status as the International Institution for Public-Private Cooperation, the Forum today launched a new report, Collaborative Innovation: Transforming Business, Driving Growth, which highlights the potential for thoughtful and strategic partnerships between young, dynamic firms and established businesses to improve European innovation.

Based on more than 80 interviews and nine workshops over the last year, the report presents ways in which firms and policy-makers can support collaborative approaches to innovation, thereby helping high-potential ventures overcome the market failures and fragmentation that can hold firms back. The work reveals a number of important challenges facing both young and established firms, as well as strategies that can be implemented by business leaders and policy-makers to improve Europe’s innovation ecosystem.

This is not to say that collaboration is a “silver bullet” or a straightforward process. Even the most complementary partnerships are risky and complex, and involve specific skills. However, the benefits to young firms, established companies and their surrounding economies can be huge, as innovation that may not otherwise have occurred is realized and brought to scale across Europe.

The report, Collaborative Innovation: Transforming Business, Driving Growth, is available here.

Have you read?
What is the link between innovation and social mobility?
How can business clusters drive success?
Are you an undercover entrepreneur?

Author: Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation, World Economic Forum

Image: Employees have a discussion at the innovation lab of Swiss bank UBS in Zurich January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Geographies in DepthEconomic GrowthBusiness
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

$400 billion debt burden: Emerging economies face climate action crisis

Libby George

April 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum