All you need to know about the Innovation Union (IU)

The Innovation Union is one of the targets for the European Union 2020 Strategy (increasing research spending to 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of many goals). It is considered a crucial investment for the future of the European Union.

What is the purpose of the Innovation Union (IU)? The aim of the IU is to create jobs and growth by improving conditions and access to finance for research and innovation. This is achieved by:

  • Focusing on innovations that address the major societal challenges identified in Europe 2020;
  • Pursuing a broad concept of innovation;
  • Involving all actors and all regions in the innovation cycle.

Key initiatives to implement the IU. Over 30 actions are in the pipeline, corresponding to the following objectives:

  • Promoting excellence in education and skills development;
  • Delivering the European Research Area;
  • Focusing EU funding instruments on IU priorities;
  • Promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as a model of innovation governance in Europe;
  • Enhancing access to finance for innovative companies;
  • Creating a single innovation market;
  • Promoting openness and capitalising on Europe's creative potential;
  • Spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union;
  • Increasing social benefits;
  • Pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs: European Innovation Partnerships;
  • Leveraging policies externally;
  • Reforming research and innovation systems;
  • Measuring progress.

How does the EU monitor the IU? The EU uses several tools to analyse the implementation of its key initiatives. Among these tools, the IU scoreboard highlights the differences between Member States, whereas the Innovation Output Indicator measures the extent to which ideas from innovative sectors are able to reach the market, providing better jobs and making Europe more competitive.

What is the state of play for the IU? The last Communication from the European Commission – State of the Innovation Union 2012 – Accelerating changes unveiled its priorities for the IU, such as:

  • Accelerating structural change within existing sectors;
  • Closing the innovation divide between European regions;
  • Working on innovation-friendly framework conditions for innovative businesses;
  • Identifying concrete ways to  boost innovation through the public sector;
  • Developing a coherent policy approach for open innovation and knowledge transfer;
  • Accounting for the value of intellectual property;
  • Driving retail innovation;
  • Combining new technologies and services using innovation within business models.


More information

Innovation Union Website

Key documents about the Innovation Union