Innovation and entrepreneurship have become the cornerstone of growth and competitiveness policies. They are both multidimensional, and thus highly complex, concepts. The focus of the article is on the process nature of innovation which is extensively illustrated by means of the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) results for Belgium, its three main neighbouring countries and the EU as a whole. The CIS offers an original view of how firms are performing in the innovation stakes in each economy, defining innovation as the introduction of a new or significantly improved product or process. Among the various dimensions considered are expenditure on innovation, including R&D, cooperation with other economic agents, hampering factors, public support and innovation policies. The specific role of entrepreneurship as a driver of innovation is also considered. The article points up the importance of general framework conditions and the structural characteristics of an economy for its innovation process and performance. In the case of Belgium, its external openness, the necessary fiscal restraint, and the position of its firms at the core of the international production process really do exert an influence on its overall innovation profile.