Experiment and evaluate
wo aspects of the European Commission's work in the area of innovation come together in this edition.
Its role as a 'clearing house' for information about innovation policies and behaviour is exemplified by the newly published 2001 Innovation Scoreboard (see 'The learning curve'). The Scoreboard summarises detailed statistical data about actual innovation performance in each Member State to provide an easily understood overview of Europe's innovative capacity. It also provides a clear and reliable framework for policy development - the exchange of good practice and the refinement of existing measures to meet changing needs - both within the Union and with candidate countries (see 'Flight simulator for innovation pilots?').
The Commission does not rely exclusively on Member States to develop good practice, however. It also provides a 'test bed' for innovative approaches - new ways of stimulating and supporting innovation, and of maximising its impact, which are not yet included in the range of available policy tools, but which have the potential to overcome common weaknesses and bottlenecks. The Innovation projects action line, the subject of our dossier article, has evolved from a simple programme of discrete 'one-off' technology transfer and demonstration projects to address the broader commercial, institutional and cultural barriers to innovation. In the key areas of supply-chain networks, virtual enterprises and integrated innovation systems, it is creating and testing the good practice mechanisms of the future.
These two functions are complementary and mutually dependent - and reflect the cycle of experimentation and evaluation which characterises the process of innovation itself.