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A recent publication by Battelle provides a global overview and forecast of R&D spending as well as related challenges and drivers of success.

What follows is a summary of key messages (text and figures), extracted from the Battelle report (2014 Global R&D Funding Forecast):

  • The world share of R&D spend doesn’t change significantly within a 3-year observation window (2012-2014) (Fig. 1).
  • In comparison to the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the Rest-of-World’s (RoW) share in global R&D spend is minute (5.4% in 2012) (Fig. 1).
  • South Africa trails other nations (n=40 in the report) at position 29 in GERD (Gross Expenditure on R&D) as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and in absolute terms (1.0% in 2012 and 6 bn PPP*-adjusted USD in 2012, respectively) (Fig. 2).
  • Smaller economies (e.g. Israel, Denmark and Austria) outperform South Africa ito GERD as a percentage of GDP (4.3%, 3.1% and 2.8%, respectively) (Fig. 2).
  • An average USD 127.000,- is spent per R&D job in the US (Fig. 3).
  • Every R&D job creates a multiple of 3.2 indirect and induced jobs (Fig. 3).
  • Every 1 USD spent on R&D creates 2.9 USD in indirect economic impact (Fig. 3).
  • 71% of R&D spend in the US is contributed by industry (Fig. 4).
  • China will exceed Europe and the US in absolute R&D spending in the early 2020s (Fig. 4).
  • China is a nation that prioritises spending on development efforts over basic and applied research (Fig. 4).
  • Most BRIC nations (except India, South Africa not included in the analysis) are increasing their R&D intensity (Fig. 4).
  • Publications and patents remain key lead indicators of innovation. Patents are more relevant than publications (Fig. 5).
  • China is gaining rapidly in number of publications and patent applications (Fig. 5).
  • Fostering R&D requires the creation of a comprehensive eco-system (Fig 6).
  • It takes four key efforts to build a successful R&D eco-system: (i) large investments in human capital; (ii) partnering science with commercial vision and entrepreneurial efforts; (iii) making capital available to all stages of R&D; (iv) having a supportive and responsive government.

*PPP, Purchase Power Parity



Figure 1 – Share of total global R&D spending


Figure 2 – GERD ForecastFig-3-RD-economic-multipliers-6-May-2014

Figure 3 – R&D economic multipliers


Figure 4 – National differences in R&D spending


Figure 5 – Indicators of innovation


Figure 6 – Comprehensive R&D ecosystem