The Eco-Innovation Challenge

The Eco-Innovation Challenge



According to CIS, sectors where availability of government grants and subsidies played a

key role for environmental innovation included construction (17% of innovating companies

in the sector), transport (16%), water (16%), mining (14%) and energy (12%). The higher

relevance of grants in construction may reflect a growing role of environmental performance

requirements in publicly funded construction works. Access to public subsidies and fiscal

incentives was highlighted as a very important driver by respondents in Eurobarometer,

notably in agriculture and fishing (48% of eco-innovators in the sector).

Technological, socio-cultural and natural capital factors

Around one fifth of the SMEs surveyed by Eurobarometer considered the lack of qualified

personnel and technological lock-in as a significant barrier to eco-innovation (Figure 6.6).

Food and agricultural sectors seemed to be more exposed to these barriers, while the water

sector is the least challenged. Technological and management capabilities help drive ecoinnovation

in 44% of SMEs in agriculture and 35-38% of enterprises in other industries

(Figure 6.5).

Socio-cultural drivers of eco-innovations, such as collaboration with research organizations

and other business partners, and access to external knowledge and assistance, are reported

to be more important in the agriculture and fishing sector. The Eurobarometer survey

showed that the current and future lack of materials is a particularly relevant factor in the

manufacturing industry, and less significant in the water sector (Figure 6.5)

6.2 | Drivers and barriers in EIO country profiles

The analysis of EIO country profiles18 contributes a complementary perspective to reflection

on the barriers and drivers of eco-innovation in EU Member States. Each of the 27 country

profiles has highlighted the most critical barriers and drivers of eco-innovation in that country,

based on literature review and interviews with policy makers.

Regulatory and policy framework

The country reports also reveal that the regulatory and policy framework is one of the most

important determinants of eco-innovation development in the EU. Twelve country briefs report

the current or expected stringency of regulation, introduction of standards, pollution charges

and taxes, as well as targeted initiatives of the government as drivers of eco-innovation.

On the other hand, several countries, mostly in new EU Member States, report that weak

regulations and a lack of relevant policies form a barrier to eco-innovative initiatives.

Economic and financial factors

Every country report underlines the importance of economic drivers to both the initiation and

long-term viability of eco-innovation. Critical points seem to be seed funds and venture capital

(which is largely lacking in the EU) necessary for technology transfer and commercialisation


Eco-innovative developments in new EU Member States have been largely driven by

special funding programmes of the EU in cooperation with national authorities; whereas

dedicated investments into green R&D have been seen more in Austria, Finland, Germany,

Denmark and France. Growing demand for green, ecological, and bio products, as well as

Annual Report 2010

The current and future

lack of materials is a

strong driver in the

manufacturing industry.

18. The EIO has developed

eco-innovation profiles for all

Member States utilizing both

internal expertise and national

country experts. These reports

contain concise analysis of ecoinnovation

performance, leading

and emerging eco-innovation

areas, an overview of relevant

policy measures and a summary

of barriers and drivers to ecoinnovation.

The country reports

are available on the EIO website


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