In the 2018-2020 triennium there was an increase in innovation activities, having been reported in 48.0% of enterprises, while in the previous triennium only 32.4% of enterprises had this type of activity. However, this expansion was mainly due to process innovation, observed in 42.7% of enterprises (28.0% in the previous triennium) since the percentage of enterprises in which product innovation was observed was limited to 22.3%, slightly below the percentage recorded in the previous triennium (23.0%). There is strong evidence that this increase in process innovation is largely associated with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the implementation of teleworking and the consequent investment in technology and equipment that made it possible, the adjustment of communication channels (including the implementation of online sales) and generally the adaptation of processes and procedures related to the adoption of teleworking and non-face-to-face contacts to ensure business continuity.
In 2020, 13.8% of enterprises’ turnover resulted from the introduction of new or improved products to the market (+2.6 p.p. compared to 2018), totalling EUR 36.2 billion (nevertheless, a reduction of EUR 968.8 million compared to 2018, in a context of significant decrease in enterprises’ total turnover in 2020). About 9.5% of this volume resulted from the introduction of new products for the enterprise and 4.3% from the introduction of new products for the market (7.0% and 4.2% in 2018, respectively). Regarding the total expenditure on innovation activities, it reached EUR 2,735.8 million, increasing EUR 137.2 million (+5.8%) compared to 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020, 23.9% of enterprises were innovative and introduced innovations with some kind of environmental benefit, highlighting the benefits related to the recycling of waste, water or materials for own consumption or sale.
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