Sweden may not be nr 1 in innovation – the EU Innovation ranking is flawed, says CIRCLE prof. Charles Edquist

For many years, including in the 2018 edition, Sweden has, by the Summary Innovation Index (SII), been ranked number 1 in the EU with regard to innovation performance. However, because the SII uses simple average measure, it seems to miss that the large amount of investments in the Swedish innovation system are not transformed into innovation outputs. This should not be considered as high performance and should be acknowledged when innovation policy in Sweden is designed, according to the researchers Charles Edquist and Jon Mikel Zabala Iturriagagoitia. They point out that there is a widespread SII-based misbelief that Sweden is number 1 in terms of innovation performance in the EU.


Charles Edquist describes the news further: “On June 22, the 2018 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) was published by the European Commission. The summary innovation index included in the EIS misleads politicians, policy-makers, researchers and the general public. This is argued in a contribution by Charles Edquist and Jon Mikel Zabala Iturriagagoitia in the website Science Business published on June 22, 2018. On June 26, the same article was also published in the Science Business Newsletter. That very short piece is based on a recent scientific article published in Research Evaluation, where the methodological and statistical details are provided.

Large resources are invested in producing and communicating the EIS annual reports – the 2017 edition was available in 23 languages. The 2018 edition is launched in a large event on June 25, 2018 in the Breydel auditorium in Brussels. The results are widely diffused in most EU member states.

A major constituent of the EIS is the Summary Innovation Index (SII). It claims to provide a ”comparative assessment” and ranking of “innovation performance” in the EU member states. However, it does not, because it is methodologically inferior.

The underlying problem is that the SII interpretation of “innovation performance” does not relate outputs to inputs, which has to be done in any meaningful measure of “performance”, “productivity” or “efficiency”. Instead the SII mixes inputs and outputs into a simple arithmetic average, which is meaningless. This is remarkable. And it means that the SII cannot be used for innovation policy purposes, which is an explicit objective of the EIS.”

At a conference June 25th, Commission officials were defending their methodology.


New knowledge platform: Workshop on Sweden’s position in Global Value Chains

For invited guests the new Vinnova funded knowledge platform on Global Value Chains, coordinated by CIRCLE, was presented at a workshop held at Lund School of Economics and Management. The participants were presenting and discussing the main research areas that will be investigated by the project team and related work of researchers from various faculties at Lund University. From Vinnova’s side Lennart Stenberg and Rolf Nilsson were leading feedback, discussion and presenting “hot topics” at Vinnova.


Topics on the agenda:

  • Claudio Fassio and Lina Ahlin: Trends and Dynamics in the Swedish business sector
  • Jasna Pocek and Torben Schubert: The integration of innovative firms in Sweden into global corporate structures, global knowledge networks and global value chains
  • Martin Andersson and Trudy-Ann Stone: Multinational companies as breeding grounds for new entrepreneurs and new international start ups
  • Johan Klaesson and Lars Pettersson: MNEs in Sweden and their Importance for Functional Urban Regions
  • Åsa Lindholm Dahlstrand and Jing Xiao: The acquisition of small technological companies by foreign and Swedish MNEs
  • Eugenia Perez Vico: the Research Policy knowledge platform
  • Fredrik Sjöholm: Off-shoring and employment dynamics in Sweden
  • Lea Funfschilling: The Sustainability and Transition knowledge platform
  • Lennart Stenberg and Rolf Nilsson: latest “hot topics” at Vinnova


Have a good day!

What happened when CIRCLE hosted the EU-SPRI Winter School on Geography of Innovation?

Just now CIRCLE hosted a Winter School targeted at state-of-the-art training in the Geography of Innovation for the 22 international PhD candidates. This was part of the series by European Forum for Studies of Policies for Research and Innovation, EU-SPRI Forum. This series focuses on current research and debates on innovation studies and associated fields, with emphasis on policy and pressing societal challenges.


Each day was dedicated to a specific topic with presentations and useful and open discussions long into the coffee breaks. Here is the outline of the one-week course and the presenters coming both from very far and close.

  • Geographies of innovation by Richard Shearmur
  • Innovation and the city by Martin Andersson
  • Innovation and the Periphery by Richard Shearmur
  • Territorial Innovation Models by Josephine Rekers
  • Agency and Regional Innovation Systems by Markku Sotarauta
  • …..more below
  • Global and local innovation networks & trust by Magnus Nilsson
  • Migration, heritage and regional persistence of entrepreneurship by Olof Ejermo
  • Regional Innovation Policy by Markus Grillitsch
  • New path development in regions by Markus Grillitsch
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation policy levers for regional economic resilience and diversification – linking academia and policy practice by Sandra Hannig (OECD)


  • Geography of transitions by Lea Fuenfschilling
  • A Holistic Innovation Policy and the Practice of the Swedish National Innovation Council by Charles Edquist
  • Long term structural change and growth in a regional system by Lars-Olof Olander
  • Models of innovation: Development and policy applications by Merle Jacob
  • Management of Global Innovation Processes: Creating Modular Organizations by Torben Schubert
  • Making a Contribution: Constructing Mystery by Dan Kärreman
  • Successful research application workshop by Magnus and Marcus
  • To get to know each other better and strengthen the network, social events were arranged containing dinners and game activities.


It was a great pleasure for CIRCLE to host the EU-SPRI Winter School, we hope to meet and collaborate again soon!



Latest Circle research presented at the 4th Geography of Innovation Conference in Barcelona 2018

A number of Circle researchers such as Jing XiaoLea Funfschilling, Åsa Lindholm Dahlstrand, Helen Lawton SmithClaudio Fassio, Johan MiörnerMagnus Nilsson, Markus Grillitsch and Martin Andersson were recently presented by and presented their latest research at the 4th Geography of Innovation Conference in Barcelona, Spain. The main objective of this conference is to bring together some of the world’s leading thinkers from a variety of disciplines ranging from economic geography and regional science, economics and management science, sociology and network theory, and political and planning sciences.

These were some of the topics:

  • Paper by Helen Lawton Smith, Åsa Lindholm Dahlstrand, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Laurel Edmunds:
    “Understanding the role of the local in technological innovation systems: Research-based firms and regional development in Sweden and the UK”


  • Paper by Lea Fuenfschilling, Johan Miörner, Michaela Trippl:
    “Towards a process-oriented theoretical framework of industrial path development”


  • Paper by Martin Andersson, Davide Castellani, Jing Xiao:
    “Cities, Multinationals and Start-ups”
  • Paper by Davide Castellani, Claudio Fassio:
    “Export innovation the role of new imported inputs and multinationality”
  • Paper by Magnus Nilsson:
    “Proximity and the trust formation process”
  • Paper by Johan Miörner:
    “Institutional Agency in New Path Development: Towards Self-Driving Cars in West Sweden”


  • Paper by Bjørn Asheim, Michaela Trippl, Markus Grillitsch:
    “Unrelated knowledge combinations: Unexplored potential for regional industrial path development”
  • Paper by Markus Grillitsch, Markku Sotarauta:
    “Shaping regional growth paths”


 Stay tuned for coming publications!

CIRCLE Seminar with Ass. Prof. Francesco Di Lorenzo on Cross-Organization Collaboration and Mobility of Knowledge Workers

Francesco Di Lorenzo will give a seminar at CIRCLE to present his paper “Cross-Organization Collaboration and Mobility of Knowledge Workers” 

Francesco Di Lorenzo is Assistant Professor of Strategy and International Business at the Department of Strategic Management and Globalization of the Copenaghen Business School. His research interests are in the areas of strategic management and economics and management of innovation, with a focus on innovativeness of individuals, antecedents and implications of mobility of human capital and inter-organisational knowledge flows.

Date: 17th of January, Wednesday: 14.00-15.00 

Place: Sölvegatan, 16, MNO-huset, CIRCLE seminar room M213

Abstract: Through the lens of labor market friction logic, we theorize that knowledge workers’ experiences on cross-organization teams affect employee mobility patterns and shape post-mobility employee performance. Additionally, we theorize that employee ability positively moderates both these relationships. We test our theory in the context of academic scientists because these knowledge workers may be part of collaborations both within their current organization and across multiple organizations. We find that cross-organization collaboration enhances knowledge worker mobility and moving to collaborators is associated with greater post-mobility employee performance. We find that employee ability positively moderates the effect of moving to collaborators. The results suggest that cross-organization collaboration reduces labor market frictions and enhances the quality of employee-employer matches, particularly for high ability individuals.

Practical: The seminar is open for everyone and there is no need to register. In case you don’t have the access card for our building, please let us know (or simply ring us on the entrance doorbell). 

/Claudio Fassio (claudio.fassio@circle.lu.se)


CIRCLE Seminar with Ass. Prof. Myra Mohnen on Knowledge Spillovers among Medical Scientists

Myra Mohnen will give a seminar at CIRCLE to present her paper “Stars and Brokers: Knowledge Spillovers among Medical Scientists” 

Myra Mohnen is Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Essex. Her research interests are in the field of Labour Economics, Innovation and Applied Microeconomics.

Date: 30th of November 2017, Thursday: 14.00-15.00 

Place: Sölvegatan, 16, MNO-huset, CIRCLE seminar room M213

Abstract: I propose a new network measure, brokerage degree, to assess the extent to which a scientist provides access to non-redundant information. It is defined as the fraction of a coauthor’s collaborators that a given scientist can only access through the co-author himself. Using the co-authorship network of medical scientists, I estimate the heterogeneity in the impact of the unexpected death of a star scientist on his coauthors’ productivity. Depending on brokerage degree, the effects on annual publications range from +16% to -34%. The decline in productivity is shown to be consistent with an increase in the cost of accessing knowledge.

Practical: The seminar is held in CIRCLE Seminar Room, it is open for everyone and there is no need to register. In case you don’t have the access card for our building, please let us know (or simply ring us on the entrance doorbell). 

Send an mail to us in case you wish to have the paper.

/Claudio Fassio (claudio.fassio@circle.lu.se)


“Developing strategic frameworks for innovation related public procurement” – first report is published

Report entitled “Developing strategic frameworks for innovation related public procurement” has now been formally published by the European Commission. It can be downloaded at: https://rio.jrc.ec.europa.eu/en/policy-support-facility/mle-innovation-procurement  – please click ‘reports’.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 13.12.46.png

prof. Charles Edquist is chairing an European Union project
(A Mutualcharles-avatar Learning Exercise, MLE) on innovation related public procurement. The first report in this initiative has now emerged. It is written by Charles and has the title “Developing Strategic Frameworks for Innovation Related Public Procurement”.

This report addresses frameworks for innovation related public procurement. It focuses on four specific kinds of procurement, namely (1) direct innovation procurement, (2) catalytic innovation procurement, (3) functional regular procurement, and (4) Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP). (1) – (3) are also called Innovation-Enhancing Procurement (IEP).

The report empahasizes  the importance of functional procurement and functional specifications for innovation. Functional procurement can be defined as the procurement of products by an authority/unit that describes a function to be performed (or a problem to be solved) instead of describing the product that is to perform the function. In functional procurement, a public agency specifies what is to be achieved rather than how it is to be achieved. Functional regular procurement is pursued by means of functional specifications instead of product specifications. Hence, it is a matter of the manner in which a procurement call is set up and the tender documentation is formulated. Needs are translated into functions to which potential suppliers can respond. It opens up for innovation but does not require it. The general conclusion is that functional specification is needed for all the four different kinds of procurement addressed in this MLE. To achieve innovation through public procurement it is, somewhat paradoxically, more important to emphasize functional specification than to pursue innovation procurement.

In the 2014 EU Procurement Directives it is stated that “Functional and performance-related requirements are also appropriate means to favour innovation in public procurement and should be used as widely as possible.” Sweden is the only country where the government has developed – in 2016 – a national strategy for public procurement where innovation procurement – actually meaning functional procurement – is central. This strategy is described in some detail in the report.

Go to the report: https://rio.jrc.ec.europa.eu/en/policy-support-facility/mle-innovation-procurement  

Happy reading!