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Young Leading Innovators And The EU's R&D Intensity Gap

M. Cincera, Reinhilde. Veugelers
Published 2010 · Economics, Political Science

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Europe's innovation gap relative to the USA is often attributed to its industrial structure in which new firms do not play a significant role, especially in high-tech sectors. This view of a structural European Union (EU) innovation deficit is popular in European innovation policy discussions, but has received little or no thorough empirical investigation. This article aims to address this ‘evidence gap’. Using industrial R&D Scoreboard data from leading world innovators, we find that compared to the USA, the EU has fewer young firms among its leading innovators. Using a decomposition analysis, we show that having fewer young firms accounts for about one-third of the EU–US differential in R&D intensity, while 55% of the differential is due to the fact that young leading innovators in the EU are less R&D intensive than their US counterparts. Further analysis shows that this is almost entirely due to a different sectoral composition. We thus confirm that the EU–US private R&D gap is indeed mostly a structural issue.
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