This paper investigates the comparability of the 1999 canadian survey of innovation with the european community innovation surveys for 1997/1998 (cis2). Four european countries are compared to canada: france, germany, ireland, and spain. Differences in terms of design and implementation of the survey and formulation of the questionnaire are pointed out. Proposals are made to harmonize the two datatsets and make them comparable as much as possible. Different innovation indicators — percentage of innovators, sale of innovative products — show different results between countries. Canada leads the pack by far if we consider the percentage of innovating firms in the respective country samples, however it ranks last if we consider the share in sales of innovative products. Canada, germany and ireland seem to be relatively similar regarding the percentage of first-innovators (a narrower definition of innovation). France and spain lag behind in this regard but seem to have a high intensity of first-innovators among the innovators. Results also show some common trends for all countries studied. Firms in high-tech sectors are more frequently innovative and reach a greater share of revenue from innovation than firms in other sectors. Large firms are more often innovative but size is not always a good predictor for the percentage of revenue from innovation.