Research and development comprise creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including the knowledge of humankind, culture and society, and to devise new applications of available knowledge (OECD, 2015a). IAEG-SDG selected
Research and development intensityResearch and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP. as one of two measures for target 9.5 (the other being the number of researchers, in full-time equivalent, per million inhabitants). Research and development covers three types of activity: (1) basic research, (2) applied research, (3) experimental development, and may be financed or performed by businesses, government, higher education institutions or the private non-profit sector (see target 12.a).
more as a proportion of GDP
|Central and Eastern Europe||0.9||1.0|
|East Asia and the Pacific||1.9||2.1|
|Korea, Republic of||3.5||4.2|
|Latin America & Caribbean||0.7||0.7|
|North America and Western Europe||2.4||2.4|
|South and West Asia||0.7||0.7|
Between 2010 and 2013, the world research and development intensityResearch and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP.
more as a proportion of GDP grew very marginally from 1.6 to 1.7 per cent. This small increase was mainly due to substantial research and development expenditure growth in the Asian countries, including China, India and the Republic of Korea (see table 9.4). Beyond these exceptions, increases in research and development intensityResearch and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP.
more were limited. Nevertheless, increasing research and development intensity remains a long-term objective. For instance, in 2000 European countries set the research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP target at 3 per cent. To date, only a few European countries have reached that target and the objective remains in place for 2020. Many developing countries have also set research and development intensity objectives. For example, the African Union’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 requires each member State to take concrete actions to allocate at least 1 per cent of GDP to research and development.
Economies with higher levels of research and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP include Israel (4.2), the Republic of Korea (4.2), Japan (3.5), Finland (3.3) and Denmark (3.1). Only two developing economies (China and the Republic of Korea) have a research and development intensity above the world average. During the period 2010–2013, a number of economies (Israel, Japan and the Republic of Korea) made remarkable increases in their relative research and development expenditure, despite their already high research and development intensity. On the other hand, several developed economies hit by the global economic crisis, namely Canada, Finland and Luxembourg, have seen a marked contraction in research and development intensity during this period (table 9.4).
Research and development efforts may be performed and financed by enterprises, government or higher education institutions, among others. Public and private research has typically different purposes. Public research is generally moved by a purpose of expanding the knowledge base and obtaining recognition for this, and may not necessarily result in the upgrading of the technological capabilities of industrial sectors. On the other hand, private research is primarily moved by the practical application of the knowledge it develops. Because of this, business research and development is seen as particularly relevant for upgrading technological capabilities of industrial sectors and for encouraging innovation.
The global average for business research and development as a share of GDP has slightly increased from 1.1 to 1.2 per cent between 2001 and 2011. On the other hand, the contribution of business research and development to total research and development expenditure has dropped since 2006 in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and the former Soviet States (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2016).