The Eco-Innovation Challenge

The Eco-Innovation Challenge

There is no “model

country” which could

serve as an example

of best practice across

all areas observed

in the scoreboard.

There is a positive

correlation between


and GDP and


and competitiveness.


performing countries in this sub-category are three EU-15 countries (Luxembourg, Portugal,

and Greece).

In this sub-category no patterns regarding performances among the different indicators can

be distinguished. Many countries perform very differently in the three different indicators, with

remarkable outliers in one of them. Hence, a direct relation between a country’s performance

in the different categories is difficult to establish.

Comparing the performance in different sub-categories

Of the top 5 countries only two countries ranked first in one of the categories (Finland in

eco-innovation inputs and Austria in eco-innovation outputs), whereas none of the other

top performers scored higher than second (Denmark in eco-innovation activities) or third

(Germany in eco-innovation activities and Sweden in eco-innovation outputs) in the individual


This indicates that there is no “model country” which could serve as an example of best

practice across all areas observed in the scoreboard. On the contrary, significant potential

for improvement can be identified for all countries. For instance, Austria ranked 12th in the

category of eco-innovation inputs; Sweden 13th in the category of socio-economic outcomes;

and Finland – the best performing country in the composite index – only 19th in environmental

outcomes. Denmark and Germany showed a relatively balanced performance over all the

categories, with rankings between 2nd and 10th .

At the lower end of the scoreboard a more homogenous picture can be drawn: many of

those countries which had a low performance overall also scored low in the different subcategories.

One exception is Bulgaria, while ranking 21st in the overall ranking it ranked 1st in the sub-category of socio-economic outcomes. Other countries – especially those in the

middle performance part of the scoreboard – have a very inhomogeneous performance

throughout the sub-categories.

3.3 | Understanding country performance

Beyond just assessing performance, the EIO is interested in understanding why certain

countries perform better or worse than others. We correlate three important relationships and

ask whether there is a connection between eco-innovation and 1) GDP 2) competitiveness

and 3) environmental performance.

3.3.1 | Eco-innovation and economic performance:

is eco-innovation only for ‘rich countries’?

EIO analysis reveals a robust positive correlation between eco-innovation and GDP (Figure

3.7) and eco-innovation and competitiveness (Figure 3.8). This suggests that eco-innovation

may be contributing to the competitive advantage of economies and companies (see

also section 5.2). It may also show that eco-innovation is easier to develop and absorb

by companies with an established market position. These results should be regarded with

caution; further investigation is needed to establish causality between both GDP and ecoinnovation

and competitiveness and eco-innovation.

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