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State of play

The future of global research may seem to rest with the emerging economies, but who leads the world today? Elizabeth Gibney mines the OECD’s latest data to find out.

According to the OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011, released on 20 September, the US still dominates global R&D expenditure. In 2009, the US spent some $311 billion on R&D at 2000 prices. But European countries added together also make an R&D heavyweight, spending around three-quarters of the US total, with Germany, France, UK and Italy featuring individually in the top 10 (see table via link below). As a percentage of GDP, however, both governments and businesses in the EU27 spend less on R&D than the OECD average.

Next, and rising fast, comes China, investing some $126bn in R&D, followed closely by Japan at $113bn. According to the OECD, countries outside the organisation, which include Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), account for a growing share of world R&D, both in terms of total researchers and R&D spending.

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