Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) - Tracking Innovation in Europe

The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) is a unique initiative of the EU's INNOVATION programme and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT), undertaken within the framework of the European Innovation Monitoring System (EIMS). An initial survey, conducted in...
The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) is a unique initiative of the EU's INNOVATION programme and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT), undertaken within the framework of the European Innovation Monitoring System (EIMS). An initial survey, conducted in 1992-1993, provided the first ever comparable, company level data on the processes and results of technological innovation in Europe - offering an invaluable tool for tracking innovation across Europe and for drawing comparisons across regions and across sectors. A second survey, currently underway, will build on the experience of this first survey. This is due to be completed by mid-1998.

The CIS is a good example of subsidiarity and synergy, where the sum of the parts yields much more information than could ever be accomplished by the individual parties working in isolation. For a number of years innovation surveys have been undertaken on a regular basis in some countries - e.g. Germany, where the government used them to develop or influence the direction of national innovation policy. However, as the concept of innovation became more widely studied it became clear to many policy-makers and researchers that comparable data on a Europe-wide basis was needed to make any considered policy statements. More importantly, this pan-European measurement of innovation had to be carried out on a regular basis. The INNOVATION programme, in collaboration with EUROSTAT, took up this challenge.

The following feature, developed for CORDIS by the European Innovation Monitoring System, provides a general overview of the main features of the Community Innovation Survey:

* Innovation is a vast subject: what exactly does the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) cover?

The CIS is currently focused on technological innovation - while CIS I focused on manufacturing industry, CIS II will also target the services industry, which is a major innovator. The survey aims to get a measure of the number of new or improved products and/or processes that were implemented during a certain period. Thus, subjects such as organizational innovation and new methods of marketing, training or recruiting are not included, even though all these things contribute to innovation.

* Who does the CIS cover?

Enterprises from each Member State of the European Union, as well as from Norway and Iceland.

* How are these enterprises contacted or selected?

The enterprises are contacted by the national body responsible for coordinating and managing the survey in each country. In the majority of participating countries this is the National Statistical Office. However, in some countries another institution fulfils this task. In keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, the decision on who carries out the survey at national level is left entirely to the Member State concerned. Selection of the enterprises is based on tried and tested statistical techniques. Very simply, this means enterprises are grouped by economic activity and size and a 'random' selection is made from each group.

* The first CIS was established as a pilot study, what were the main lessons drawn from it?

Almost by definition a pilot study suggests a very steep learning curve. This was certainly true of the first CIS. In this first experience, different countries took different approaches to the survey. There was also a lot of statistical and methodological ground work required to prepare for a pan-European survey. This included the drafting of a common questionnaire based on the "OECD Guidelines for collecting and interpreting data on technological innovation" - otherwise known as "The Oslo Manual".

Agreement also needed to be reached with Member States on how to approach the survey taking into account administrative issues of handling and transfer of data, as well as Community funding for the handling of such additional work by Member States. In addition, statistical techniques, such as "micro-aggregation", needed to be developed to ensure confidentiality of data, harmonization of sampling techniques and data processing.

The key lessons learnt from the first CIS included:

- That such a pan-European project could be done and was worth continuing - hence CIS II was launched in 1997. In fact, the long-term continuity of such a survey is recommended for best value and use of results;

- Greater attention to details such as types of surveys, targeting mechanisms, non-response analysis needed to be improved. The ultimate objective is to have identical questionnaires and sampling techniques;

- Improved communication of the results of the survey is needed for them to reach the enterprises surveyed.

* How comparable and representative is the data from the CIS?

Whilst there are some deficiencies in areas of comparability and representativeness, it is clear that no other survey has combined and accumulated so much information on innovation at the enterprise level. There is, however, no room for complacency and continued efforts on the part of EUROSTAT, the European Commission (DGXIII/D) and the representatives from the Member States are constantly focusing on improving all aspects of the CIS.

* Who pays for the CIS?

Each Member State funds their own innovation survey. The European Community provides a financial contribution to participating Member States to cover the costs of the additional work required to make each national survey comparable at European level. The CIS enables the best possible use to be made of current initiatives at Member State level, whilst adding value by giving a pan-European dimension to such work.

* Is the CIS data provided by the enterprises kept confidential?

Yes. Each enterprise deals with a representative of their national statistical office (or other approved institution) who handles the raw data provided by the enterprise. This data is entered into a database which in turn is passed to EUROSTAT. These are the only two organizations that see the raw data.

* What happens with the data once it has been collected and compiled by EUROSTAT?

EUROSTAT combines all the contributions from each participating state. The next step is to make the data available to consultants and academics for analysis. In order to maintain the confidentiality of the data, a technique known as "micro aggregation" is used to make the data anonymous. The result to date is a unique database, containing innovation data from over 40,000 enterprises in Europe.

* The enterprises surveyed devote considerable time and effort to providing the information required in the questionnaire: what benefits are there for them?

Clearly there are no direct benefits, such as payment or any form of recognition. In most Member States such surveys are voluntary and there is complete dependence on the good will of business people to 'donate' their time and effort to this task. However, there is considerable indirect gain for participants and non-participants alike. Such accumulated information collected on a regular basis makes it possible to build up a wealth of innovation data. From this, particularly if such surveys become a regular event, it will be possible to monitor trends, see where specific policies appear to be effective and, to some extent at least, anticipate change.

* Who uses the CIS data?

The CIS is just one action that is carried out under the aegis of EIMS (European Innovation Monitoring System), part of the INNOVATION programme. This is best described as an observatory of innovation. Links with the key researchers and analysts in Europe have been established and a variety of studies have been commissioned.

* Are such studies based on the CIS available to the public?

Yes. Numerous studies commissioned by the EIMS are now available. An up-to-date list is available on the EIMS home page on the CORDIS WWW server. This includes a short description or summary of the studies as well as details on availability. Most reports are currently available free of charge. In addition, CORDIS Focus Supplement No 14, published in December 1997, contains summaries of some 60 EIMS studies.

* Is the CIS data available only to those consultants/experts contracted under the EIMS?

No. EUROSTAT has published a CD-ROM, containing over 7,000 tables and charts based on the CIS database. This is only a fraction of the information that could be extracted from the CIS database. However, it provides a significant information resource for universities, industry, trade associations etc. The CD-ROM (Price: ECU 250) can be ordered from the EUROSTAT Datashop (Fax +352-4335-22221). Researchers wishing to know more about the availability of micro-aggregated data for analysis should contact EUROSTAT directly (Fax +352-4301-34149).

Source: European Commission, DG XIII

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