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Innovation activity in enterprises in Sweden 2016-2018:

More than half of Swedish enterprises conducted innovation activities in 2016-2018

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2019-11-12 9.30

The latest survey on innovation activities in Swedish enterprises shows that, between 2016 and 2018, 55 percent conducted innovation activities. This share is higher among large enterprises and enterprises in the service sector.

Information and communication enterprises are strong innovators

Some industries are more innovative than others. Among information and communication enterprises, excluding film, radio and TV (NACE 58 and NACE 61-63), 76 percent conducted innovation activities during the reference period. Information service enterprises (NACE 63), in particular, were innovative; 85 percent conducted innovation activities. Other innovative industries included Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products (NACE 26) and Scientific research and development (NACE 72). In addition to differences between industries, there were also differences between size classes; large enterprises conducted innovation activities to a greater extent than small enterprises.

Share of enterprises with innovation activities, by type of NACE industry and size class, 2016-2018
 In totalIndustry
In total, 10 employees or more 55 52 57
10–49 employees
53 48 55
50–249 employees
66 68 64
250 employees or more
76 87 71

The survey divided innovation into two main types: product innovation and business process innovation. Product innovation refers to a new or improved good or service that differs significantly from the enterprise’s previous goods or services and business process innovation refers to a new or improved business process for one or more business functions that differs significantly from the enterprise’s previous business processes. The product or process must have been introduced on the market or brought into use by the enterprise during the reference period. The survey results showed that 34 percent of the enterprises introduced a product innovation and 43 percent introduced a business process innovation. The service sector introduced both product innovation and business process innovation to a greater extent than the industry sector.

Large enterprises cooperate more on innovation

Among enterprises that conducted innovation activities during the reference period, 11 percent cooperated with other parties. When cooperation on research and development is included, 18 percent of the enterprises cooperated with others. Cooperation with customers in the private sector and suppliers was most common. 

Share of enterprises with innovation activities that cooperated on innovation, by type of partner and size class, 2016-2018
commercial labs,
or private
of equipment,
or software
that are
clients or
or other
In total, 10
or more
8 11 11 5
10–49 employees
6 8 8 3
50–249 employees
13 16 17 9
250 employees
or more
30 34 34 24

Government funding for innovation activities most common

It is more common for large enterprises to receive funding for innovation activities; 20 percent of enterprises with 250 or more employees received funding for their innovation activities. Among enterprises with 50-249 employees, 11 percent received funding, while 8 percent of enterprises with 10-49 employees received funding. In total, 9 percent of enterprises with innovation activities received funding for innovation in 2016-2018. Government funding was most common; 6 percent of enterprises with innovation activities received government funding, including tax credits for personnel working with research and development.

High quality a popular strategy for strengthening economic performance

Most strategies to strengthen enterprises’ economic performance focused on high quality and meeting needs among established customer groups. Both enterprises with innovation activities and without innovation activities stated that these factors correspond well with the enterprise’s strategies. Focusing on low prices or standardised products was less common.

Strategies to strengthen economic performance, 2016-2018

Differing priorities within enterprises seen as a hampering factor for innovation activities

In the survey, enterprises listed the level of importance of a number of hampering factors with regard to their innovation activities. Among enterprises with innovation activities, 81 percent experienced some sort of hampering factor. Differing priorities within the enterprise was the most common reason, stated by 66 percent. Other important factors included high costs and lack of skilled employees within the enterprise; about 55 percent of the innovative enterprises stated this as a constraint.

Hampering factors in the enterprises’ activities, 2016-2018

The survey follows the recommendations and definitions of the Oslo manual, published by the OECD. The manual was revised ahead of this year’s data collection, which led to major changes in the questionnaire. Therefore, any comparison with previous years’ statistics should take this into account.  



Definitions and explanations

Enterprises with innovation activities include:

  1. Enterprises that introduced a new product and/or process innovation in the period 2016-2018.
  2. Enterprises that, in the period 2016-2018, have abandoned or postponed the development of new products or processes before completion.
  3. Enterprises that had ongoing development activities of new products or processes at the end of 2018 that are not yet completed.


Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

Feel free to use the facts from this statistical news but remember to state Source: Statistics Sweden.

Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Innovation, Business sector production and Research section



ICT, Business cycle and R&D unit


Amanda Hansson

+46 10 479 44 87