Specialization and innovation define the strategic vision of the European Union for the outermost regions. An analysis of the investment and human resources dedicated to scientific and technical innovation reveals, on the one hand, unequal conditions between these territories and, in general, a deterioration of the environment to investigate and invent during the last years, coinciding with the acute phase of the global economic crisis.
Eurostat has recently published the 2018 edition of its annual book of regional statistics. This is what the latest available data on the financial and human structure of scientific and technical research in the outermost regions show.
The intensity of investment in R & D in the outermost territories is one of the lowest in the European Union. In Madeira, Açores and Canarias, for example, resources dedicated to innovation do not reach 0.5% of GDP. The effort is not much greater in Martinique, Guyana, Réunion, Mayotte or Guadeloupe, where it does not exceed 1%. These results are very far from 3% of the EU’s target GDP for 2020. They are even further away from the European regions that devote the most to innovation: Braunschweig, Germany (9.5% of GDP), Brabant Wallon, Belgium (6.54%) or Stuttgart, Germany (6.24%).
Investment in R & D increased in the EU-28, from 516 euros per inhabitant in 2011, to 593 euros in 2015. However, per capita investment in R & D has been reduced in the insular European Union territories and far away. Eurostat only shows investment data per resident available from the Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira. Between 2011 and 2015, investment in R & D has only increased in Madeira, while it was reduced in the Canaries and Azores.
Another significant piece of information appears when focusing on the investment effort of the different sectors. The relative weight of the private sector in innovation is very low, compared with that of the public sector and universities.
Associated with a lower investment in R & D, the figure for the reduction of the number of researchers in the outermost regions appears.
While the personnel in tasks of innovation increased in the EU-28 between 2011 and 2015, going from €2.6 million to €2.9 million, in the Canaries and Azores it was reduced, and only in Madeira it increased. Women already represent approximately half of the active R & D positions in the outermost regions.
The human structure of innovation is further clarified by looking at the number of people employed in science and technology, and that of engineers and scientists in the outermost regions.
The European Union has 21 of every 100 active people with a higher degree working in the field of science and technology. In outermost Europe, this proportion ranges between 13% in Mayotte and the Canary Islands, and 17% in Guyana.
Engineers and professional scientists represent 7.2% of the active population in the European Union. In the Rup, the picture is as follows:
A look at the scientific-technical training of the population of these territories reveals some inefficiencies. In some regions, such as the Canary Islands, 32 out of every 100 active people have a higher degree, Bachelor, Master, or Doctor degree. However, only 13 out of 100 are professionally dedicated to scientific and technological research.