Real Numbers: Global trends in R&D Spending

Real Numbers

DIRK PILAT

Global trends in R&D Spending

Several years of economic growth have benefited investment in science, technology, and innovation. Business investment has increased and consumer spending has rebounded. This has increased demand for innovative products, processes, and services, and with it demand for scientific and technical knowledge. Improved corporate profitability has paved the way for growing investment in intellectual assets, including research and development (R&D), human resources, and intellectual property.

Increased spending is found in most of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including the major industrialized countries of Europe, Japan, and the United States. Non-OECD economies are making a growing contribution to global R&D expenditure. The combined R&D expenditure of China, Israel, Russia, and South Africa was equivalent to almost 22% of that of OECD countries in 2005, up from 9% in 1995, and these countries attract a growing share of investment by foreign affiliates. Recent policy initiatives aim to enhance the attractiveness of these countries to foreign investment by improving their domestic innovation capabilities.


Dirk Pilat () is head of the Science and Technology Division at the OECD in Paris.