Go back

Europe lags behind competitors in research personnel, report says

Europe would need to sharply increase the size of its pool of trained researchers, if it was to meet its proclaimed R&D spending targets by 2020, said a report by management consultants Deloitte.

The Researchers Report 2012, prepared for the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, measured indicators across 38 countries including European member states, to assess the research profession in Europe. The indicators covered research training, employment conditions, mobility and cooperation.

According to the report, the proportion of trained researchers in the total labour market is now almost 50% higher in the United States, and 60% higher in Japan, than it is in Europe. To meet the long-standing target of spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2020, Europe would need to train up an additional million researchers by 2020.

In 2002, EU member states agreed to raise R&D spending from its level at the time of 1.9% to 3% by 2010. When no progress was made in meeting the target, the target date was revised to 2020.

Overall, however, the reports finds that member states are taking steps to improving conditions for researchers, and to open up and connect national research systems as a move towards the European Research Area.

But it says that further improvements are needed to increase the number of women in top-level positions in research, for example, and to ensure working conditions and salaries are good across all countries.

There is also evidence that Europe needs to increase collaboration between academia and industry, as figures for scientific co-publication across sectors is considerably lower than in the US or Japan. According to the report, only one in three public sector researchers in Europe collaborates formally with the business sector, and only one in five do so across borders.

The report is the first in a series of annual assessments designed to assess Europe’s progress towards achieving the Commission’s objective of an Innovation Union. The findings are based on national data and include a scorecard for each country.