4.1.1. Innovation inputs

Despite the negative evolution experienced in recent years, the Basque Country is well positioned in terms of personnel and R&D expenditure

As we can see in Table 5, he firm performance indicators available at a regional level are very limited and are limited to performance relating to R&D, in both personnel and expenditure. Additionally, they are only available up to 2015, year in which we see a slight drop in the Basque Country in values compared to the previous year. In the case of expenditure, this also meant a slight drop in the rankings. Although progress that year was slightly negative, it should be noted that the Basque Country was still at the top of the ranking in the Spanish comparison, in a very high position among European regions as a whole and in a medium-to-high position with regard to the reference regions. However, it should be taken into account that these figures include the R&D personnel and expenditure for technology centres and CRCs, thus slightly distorting the comparison.

Table 5. Status of the Basque Country in terms of the business performance indicators.
Table 5. Status of the Basque Country in terms of the business performance indicators
Source: Eurostat and Regional Innovation Scoreboard. Compiled by authors.
NB: The rankings have been compiled based on 218 European regions, except when no data were available (*204), the Basque Country and the group of 30 reference regions, and the 19 Spanish autonomous communities and cities. The indicators for SMEs that introduce innovations are normalised values provided by the Regional Innovation Scoreboard, which is compared with two years earlier, as the Community Innovation Survey on which the data are based is conducted every two years.

In order to obtain a somewhat more recent perspective, in Graph 7 and the subsequent trend graphs for R&D, we have included values for 2016, available from Eurostat for countries and from Eustat (Basque Statistics Office) for the Basque Country. It is thus possible to confirm that the personnel figures for the Basque Country are much higher than in the rest of the territories, although they continued to decline slightly in 2016. The growth observed in 2011 and 2012 indicates that this type of employment did not drop to the same extent as it did in the rest of the economy, but this growth trend was cut short in 2013. The same change in trend can also be observed in R&D expenditure, which is increasingly moving away from the values for Germany, which are quite a bit higher. They were exceeded by the average for the reference regions in 2015 and in 2016 they were very close (although still slightly higher) to the EU-28 average, which saw a large increase in business R&D expenditure that year.

Graph 7. Variation in business performance indicators.
Graph 7.Variation in business performance indicators.
Graph 7.Variation in business performance indicators.
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Source: Eurostat. Compiled by authors.

Good R&D expenditure and personnel indicators do not seem to apply to most SMEs

As regards the innovation performance of SMEs, the normalised values in Table 5 are not necessarily comparable from one year to the next. What we can determine is that both technological innovation (product and process) and non-technological innovation (marketing and organisation) rank in a medium-to-low position in comparison with European regions as a whole and a low position compared to the reference regions. Although in the case of non-technological innovation, there seems to have been a slight improvement in comparison with Europe, the Basque Country has lost positions in comparison with the reference regions and even in the context of the Spanish autonomous communities and cities. These results seems to indicate that the good indicators for R&D expenditure and personnel do not appear to apply to the majority of SMEs, as those that state that they do engage in innovation are comparatively fewer than in Europe.

  1. Como los datos de Eurostat y Eustat no coinciden exactamente, el valor de la CAPV se ha calculado aplicando la tasa de crecimiento del año 2015-2016 de los datos de Eustat al valor del año 2015 de Eurostat.

  2. However, as indicated in the 2018 Innobasque Innovation Report and can be deduced from conversations with various firms and actors in the Basque innovation system, it appears that 2017 brought somewhat of a recovery in R&D expenditure in this community. Therefore, although it has been delayed, the economic recovery has begun to reach the field of R&D.