The role of Research and Innovation for the transition to a Circular Economy in Europe. Evidence from the Community Innovation Survey 2014

The role of Research and Innovation for the transition to a Circular Economy in Europe. Evidence from the Community Innovation Survey 2014

Jesús Alquézar Sabadie, Claire Kwiatkowski

European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, Belgium

In December 2015, after an initial retrieval, the European Commission published its Communication “Closing the loop – An Action Plan for the Circular Economy”. This strategy announces policy measures towards a more sustainable production and consumption system, where waste is considered as a valuable resource. The Commission considers that “innovation will play a key part in this systemic change” and presents European Research and Innovation (R&I) funding opportunities as well as other non-financial instruments as tools to promote environmental-friendly innovation.

The paper analyses the 2014 edition of Eurostat’s Community Innovation Survey (CIS 2014), and more concretely the module on “innovations with environmental benefits”, which is published every six years. The dataset allows to characterise the most successful enterprises in terms of (eco-)innovation, and to identify which factors lead to innovation with environmental benefits. The paper also focuses on the performance of firms that received the support of the European Union, either through the Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020 or FP7) or through other funding programmes.

Through a combination of bivariate and multivariate techniques, the paper tries to understand better eco-friendly innovation and to answer to the following questions: How is the investment and performance of enterprises involved in eco-innovation compared to others? Does the EU’s support pay-off in terms of green or circular innovation?

Despite some caveats, the CIS constitutes a valuable and free source of information to assess and understand the progress of the EU towards a greener and more circular economy. It represents a tool which could be better used in monitoring frameworks.