Ireland is punching far above its weight when it comes to innovation and third-level education, outperforming the EU average, according to the European Commission's latest findings.
Innovation is broadly defined as developing new methods, ideas, and products to advance civilisation. Examples include researching and developing products all the way to market in fields such as medical devices, an industry in which Ireland has become a global player.
According to the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), Ireland is in the second strongest tier across the EU, performing at between 100% and 125% of the EU average, alongside Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
The elite European group consists of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, which are above 125% of the EU average. As a whole, the EU experienced a 12.5% improvement in innovation performance between 2014 and 2021.
Ireland has long been seen as a leader in innovation, particularly in fields such as medical technology, financial technology, and agricultural technology.
John Durcan, a senior technologist at Enterprise Ireland, said recently: "We have a number of the world’s largest technology companies here, many of which have been progressing machine learning and artificial intelligence through their research and development activities.
The EU as a whole is catching up to the world leader, South Korea, when it comes to innovation but the Asian country still reigns supreme, according to the Commission's findings.
"Comparing the EU average to a selection of global competitors, it can be seen that South Korea is the most innovative country, performing 36% above the score of the EU in 2014 and 21% above the EU in 2021.
"The EU is ahead of China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and India in this year's EIS, while Canada, Australia, the US, and Japan have a performance lead over the EU," it said.
Ireland is among the highest in Europe when it comes to younger people having third-level education, the EIS found.
There are also encouraging findings when it comes to older people re-entering education, the EIS found.
When it comes to lifelong learning, participation increased most in Estonia, Finland and Ireland across Europe since 2014.