Skip to main content
European Commission logo
AI Watch

R5: Strategic position in the network of collaborations


The R5 – Strategic position in the network of collaborations indicator provides a metric for players’ capacity to act as connecting bridges between other players, aggregated at the geographical level, to assess the influence that a geographical area can exert on other areas thanks to the structure of collaborations in which they are involved.

The statistic used is the Weighted Betweenness Centrality (WBC) normalised in the interval from 0 to 1. The statistic is calculated on geo-based networks, i.e., networks in which nodes refer to geographical areas and each of which include all the corresponding players (i.e., the players located in that area).

The connections between nodes are given by collaborations of players in R&D activities. Each collaboration has a weight equal to 1 divided by the total number of players involved in that activity (e.g., co-patenting).

WBC counts how many times each node (geographical area) is included in the shortest path between every possible couple of nodes. The larger the value, the more likely the node has a relevant role in terms of communication exchange.


From the figure above it is possible to highlight that the two rankings about strategic position, i.e., one for scientific publications (in black) and one for patenting (in blue), differ substantially. For scientific publications, only the US and the EU have positive values, which indicates that these two areas are the ones with influential capacity within these type of activities at the global level.

With regard to patent activities, the clear leader is China, with a normalised WBC score of 1.0, which is more than double the score of the US (0.45) and is more than three times the score of the EU (0.29). Japan and other Asian countries have scores below 0.22, underlining the influential capacity role of China in patenting activities.

In general, the US appears to be best positioned in terms of R&D collaborations, as in both of the networks assessed its score is remarkable. The EU, although not leading in any of the networks, is the only other area whose role is notable both in terms of scientific publications and in patenting. In this sense, its position in terms of collaborations is relevant and strategic.

The European Union

With regard to the EU Member States, the graph below shows that they do not hold very central positions in the worldwide networks of scientific publications and patents. Nevertheless, it is possible to observe some notable values for Germany in the network of scientific publications (the black bars), as well as France, Italy and Sweden (although they all have lower levels than Germany). Even if the performance of individual Member States does not appear to be very high, when considered all together they position the EU prominently in this R&D network (See Strategic position in the network of collaborations by R&D activity type. Worldwide, 2009–2020 graph).

The situation with regard to patents underlines the central role of Germany in the EU. In the same network, only Ireland and Belgium show positive values that indicate some influential capacity.

Finally, as expected, in the network of the EC-funded projects the largest values for centrality are detected for EU Member States. In particular, Germany is shown to have the most central position in the network, followed by France, Spain and Italy. In addition, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands and Finland also deserve attention, as they show some relevance here. Indeed, the positive values seen show the ability of the players in these countries to structure networks of collaborations in which they hold a central position. This should guarantee them an active role in terms of circulation of information. 



Factsheet1 February 2022
R5: Strategic position in the network of collaborations