Almost a half of Estonian enterprises are innovative

Posted on 18 April 2018, 11:00

According to Statistics Estonia, 47.7% of Estonian enterprises were innovative in 2016. Industrial enterprises are the most active innovators.

A technologically innovative enterprise introduced new products or services to the market during the reference period or contributed to improving the enterprise’s basic or support processes, increasing efficiency. In 2016, there were 1,650 technologically innovative enterprises, of which more than a half belonged to the industrial sector.

A non-technologically innovative enterprise implemented organisational or marketing-related innovations during the reference period. In 2016, there were 797 non-technologically innovative enterprises.

However, most enterprises cannot be classified solely on the basis of technological or non‑technological innovation. Very often, both types of innovations are implemented in enterprises.


Co-operation in innovation is modest, most enterprises do not involve other institutions and universities. The survey results show that slightly over a half of innovative enterprises (53%) had co-operation in 2014–2016. Co-operation with other enterprises belonging to the same enterprise group, private sector enterprises and suppliers of equipment, machinery and software were appreciated the most. Only 11% of enterprises have co-operated with Estonian universities, a few with universities in Europe and outside Europe.

One condition of innovation is continuous research and development. According to the survey results, 18% of innovative enterprises performed R&D continuously in 2014–2016, and almost as much performed R&D occasionally. R&D is not feasible for a large proportion of small enterprises in Estonia.

On the basis of the number of innovative enterprises, it can be said that innovation happens continuously on an as-needed basis. Just over a half of non-innovative enterprises that participated in the survey did not see a compelling reason to innovate. Of non-innovative enterprises, 18% considered innovations, but the factors preventing innovation were too large; the most important of which were lack of money, difficulties in obtaining a loan as well as the lack of skilled employees.

The biannual innovation survey is conducted across Europe and OECD countries by the same methodology, which is based on the Oslo Manual. In the 2016 survey, the population included 3,714 enterprises with at least 10 persons employed, of which 1,878 enterprises belonged to the industrial sector and 1,836 to the service sector.

The statistics are based on the questionnaire “Enterprise Innovation Survey”, the submission date of which was 18.08.2017. For the statistical activity “Innovation in enterprises”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting this statistical activity.