At the European Council of Lisbon in 2000 the European Union set a high goal for the future: “to become the most competitive economy in the world, capable of durable economic growth, with more and better jobs and a tighter social cohesion” (Commission of the European Communities, September 2000).
Throughout the years different factors have been regarded as the driving force behind competition. In the 1960s and 1970s the focus was on efficiency. During the ’70s the focus moved to quality, and later to flexibility. From the 1990s onward, innovation became the ultimate competition force. The European Union has made many efforts to boost the innovation level in the EU, so as to realize its ambitious goals.
It is therefore a basic need to have powerful tools for measuring innovation activities. Since the beginning of the 1990s, much work has been put into developing instruments to measure innovation. The “Oslo manual” created by the OECD and first issued in 1992 constitutes the international directives for collecting and interpreting data concerning technological innovation. In recent years it has become clear that innovation entails more than just technological innovation, and, hence, the third edition of the OSLO manual also covers non-technological innovation, such as organizational and marketing innovation.
Using the principles of the Oslo manual, the innovation efforts in the European Union are measured systematically in the Community Innovation Survey (CIS). The European Commission (Eurostat) is the instructing party. The first Flemish CIS survey was conducted in 1993. A second and third CIS survey followed in 1997 and in 2001, respectively. In 2005, 2007, and 2009 the fourth, fifth and sixth CIS survey were launched by the Innovation Studies group of the Centre for R&D Monitoring, for the federal and regional authorities, and in close collaboration with the other regions and the federal POD WB through the CFS-Stat. In the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) data concerning innovative behavior and innovative performance of companies is collected. This data is checked extensively for validity and consistency by the Innovation Studies group of the Centre for R&D Monitoring, after which policy-relevant indicators are calculated.