Portugal 20 years behind the rest of Europe in innovation  

PORTUGAL’S DEVELOPMENT, in terms of technological innovation, is “extremely weak” and “worrying”, claims a European Union Commission. At the present rate, Portugal needs 20 years in order to reach even the medial level of technology development that other European Union countries have achieved.

In the report, Portugal was classified among a group of countries labelled “most backward but in a state of recovery”, alongside countries in Eastern Europe. Countries which demonstrated the greatest aptitude for technological innovation included Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, alongside Switzerland which is outside the EU. Countries that were losing ground to Eastern European countries, but were still retaining a technological edge, were Spain and Ireland.

The study used a country index of 26 points, which among other criteria included the number of students graduating with degrees in technologically driven subjects, the amount of investment in investigation, the registration of patents and the export of high technology.

The study is a disappointing defeat for the 2000 Lisbon Strategy, in which it was pledged that the EU would close the technological gap with more advanced countries such as the US and Japan within 10 years. It is estimated that the European Union will need 50 years to close the technological gap with the US, while most indicators reveal that Portugal is slipping behind many of the newer members of the EU such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

The problem in Portugal continues to be the low quality of workmanship, lack of funding, poor training and poor qualifications among the general population. Despite the fact that the Portuguese banking sector was praised for being cutting edge and innovative in itself, it was criticised for failing to take risks on technological investment within the country, preferring to invest in new member states abroad. The country’s largest companies were also accused of being “lobbyist” and so preventing a true spirit and atmosphere of competitiveness and innovation so vital to encourage innovation.