Eco-innovation offers a huge market for enterprises and has become one of the cornerstones of the European Union strategy in response to the global environmental and economic challenges being faced.

It is recognised in many studies and policy documents that developing eco-innovation capabilities and practices has significant commercial potential across all economic sectors. At the same time, reducing uncertainly about future market developments will help boost investment and accelerate innovation in environmental technologies, products and services.

To facilitate this market development, the Eco-Innovation Observatory (EIO) aims to provide a much-needed integrated information source on eco-innovation for companies and innovation service providers, as well as providing a solid decision-making basis for policy development.

The Eco-Innovation Observatory is a 3-year initiative financed by the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment from the Competitiveness and Innovation framework Programme (CIP). The Observatory is developing an integrated information source and a series of analyses on eco-innovation trends and markets, targeting business, innovation service providers, policy makers as well as researchers and analysts. The EIO directly informs two major EU initiatives: the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) and Europe INNOVA.

The Observatory approaches eco-innovation as a pervasive phenomenon present in all economic sectors and therefore relevant for all types of innovation, defining eco-innovation thus:

"Eco-innovation is the introduction of any new or significantly improved product (good or service), process, organisational change or marketing solution that reduces the use of natural resources (including materials, energy, water and land) and decreases the release of harmful substances across the whole life-cycle."


The eco-innovation briefs are short reports highlighting selected findings from the EIO reports and analysis. Download the eco-innovation briefs here.

Introducing eco-innovation: from incremental changes to systemic transformations (#1)
As all innovations, eco-innovation means bringing a new product (good or service) to the market or implementing a new solution in the production or organisational processes of a company. What distinguishes it from other innovations, however, is that eco-innovation results in both economic and environmental benefits. {eio-brief-01}

Innovation for Sustainable Water (#2)
Water is a critical resource for all societies and a combination of climate change, population growth, increased urbanization and dietary shift poses a challenge for countries around the world to manage precious and limited fresh water resources. This challenge calls for eco-innovative solutions including development of technology and new organisational and management solutions in addition to legislative responses. The present thematic brief addresses these issues.

The Eco-Innovation Scoreboard at a glance (#3)
The Eco-Innovation Scoreboard at a glance.

Resource-efficient construction: A systemic approach to sustainable construction (#4)
Resource-efficient construction: A systemic approach to sustainable construction.

An eco-innovation gap? A glance at eco-innovation performance in EU countries and sectors (#5)
An eco-innovation gap? A glance at eco-innovation performance in EU countries and sectors.

Eco-Innovators in Europe: Focus on Materials (#6)
Eco-Innovators in Europe: Focus on Materials.

Innovation in the Phosphorus Cycle: a Prerequisite for Global Food Security and Key Markets (#7)
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all living matters. Nevertheless, current use patterns put a long-term supply at risk. Moreover, European phosphorus supply is highly import dependent, contributing to the vulnerability of food security. Innovation along the life cycle can help to reduce phosphor losses. Monitoring tools empower policies to act target oriented.

The Eco-Innovation Challenge: Pathways to a resource efficient Europe (#8)
Can eco-innovation trigger the transformation towards resource-efficiency, in a way that is both good for business and good for the environment? This brief summarising the challenges and solutions Europe has for achieving resource-efficiency, themes which are explored in more depth in the EIO Annual Report 2010.

Eco-Innovation Scoreboard: the 2011 Results (#9)
The 2011 update of the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard (Eco-IS) shows the comparison of eco-innovation performances of EU-27 Member states based on the expanded set of indicators.

Eco-innovation in Business: reducing cost and increasing profitability via Material Efficiency Measures (#10)
What is the scope of savings companies can achieve from implementing material efficiency measures? An empirical analysis of roughly 100 case studies with data stemming from the German Material Efficiency Agency (demea) gives an overview.

Eco-innovation opportunities for European SMEs in emerging markets (#11)
International collaboration and engaging in international markets are business opportunities for European eco-innovative SMEs. They also offer chances to contribute in economic and technological leapfrogging for developing countries and give an environmental value to the development process. What has been the role of European SMEs in promoting a green economy not just "in house" but also on a global scale? What are the challenges and opportunities for European eco-innovators on emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America?

Closing the ecoinnovation gap: an economic opportunity for business (#12)
Why should business eco-innovate? This brief presents two of the opportunities associated with eco-innovation. It is based on the EIO 2011 Annual Report and focuses on the economic perspective. Overall, ecoinnovation can provide the framework for a future-orientated, sustainable and competitive business strategy.

Eco-Innovation Scoreboard: the 2012 results (#13)
Icon_Brief_13 The 2012 update of the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard shows the comparison of eco-innovation performances of EU-27 Member states based on the new data and updated set of indicators.

Collaboration in Eco-Innovation Research in the EU (#14)
This brief makes use of Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques to understand the formation of collaborations that the EU Framework Programmes for RTD (FP6 and FP7) have contributed to form between the different EU and extra -European institutions involved in eco-innovation projects.

Europe in transition: Paving the way to a green economy through eco-innovation (#15)
In 2012 the EIO looked at how eco-innovation can lead to and create pervasive change. It argues that if eco-innovation is based on partnerships of different stakeholders working together, it can play a crucial role in the transition to a green and competitive economy. This brief asks the following questions: What kind of future do we want? What is the state of resource use and eco-innovation in the EU? What is the role of eco-innovation? What can policy makers and businesses change?

A systemic perspective on eco-innovation (#16)
This brief presents the findings and messages of the EIO thematic report "A systemic perspective on eco-innovation". It illustrates that a number of systemic eco-innovation examples do already exist in various thematic fields. The report also lists key elements, which decision makers in the policy arena as well as in companies need to take into account, if they want to actively contribute to a systemic change.

Eco-innovation Observatory at a glance (#18)
Since its establishment in 2009, the EIO has delivered numerous reports, data analyses and a website with interactive database and good practice examples from across European Union. This briefs summarises about the EIO resources and presents the majour deliverables that were produced within the first three years of the EIO life.

The Eco-Innovation Scoreboard (Eco-IS) and the Eco-Innovation Index illustrate eco-innovation performance across the EU Member States. They aim at capturing the different aspects of eco-innovation by applying 16 indicators grouped into five dimensions:

  • eco-innovation inputs
  • eco-innovation activities
  • eco-innovation outputs
  • resource efficiency
  • socio-economic outcomes

The Eco-Innovation Index shows how well individual Member States perform in different dimensions of eco-innovation compared to the EU average and presents their strengths and weaknesses. The Eco-IS and the Eco-Innovation Index complements other measurement approaches of innovativeness of EU countries and aims to promote a holistic view on economic, environmental and social performance.

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The reports section provides free access to the many different reports that the Eco-Innovation Observatory.Each year the Observatory releases an annual report, providing in-depth analysis and strategic insight on trends and emerging markets for eco-innovation, considering the European postion within a global perspective. Supporting these key documents are a series of thematic reports, each focusing on a specific topic identified by the EIO and its stakeholders as being of particular importance to the realisation of a sustainable Europe. Eco-innovation briefs provide an easily accessible introduction to eco-innovation topics and new developments as they arise. Country profiles available for all 27 EU Member States investigate the eco-innovation measures and developments across Europe on an annual basis.