LONDON (ICIS)--Research and Development (R&D) spending in the EU remained stable in 2016 but lagged behind competing economies, the European statistical agency Eurostat said on Friday.
The data showed that EU member states collectively spent €300bn in this field, with two thirds of this spent in the business sector.
The R&D intensity – expenditure as a percentage of GDP – remained at 2.03%, in line with figures from recent years.
Though the figure is up from 1.76% 10 years ago, the EU aims to increase R&D intensity by 3% in the next couple of years.
R&D intensity was at a similar level to China at 2.07% according to data from 2015, but was much lower than South Korea at 4.23%, Japan at 3.29% and the US at 2.79%.
However, EU spending was much higher than Russia’s at 1.10% and Turkey’s at 0.88% in 2015.
Of all EU member states, Sweden topped the intensity with R&D spending at 3.25% of GDP but Austria showed the most growth sweeping up from 2.36% in 2006 to 3.09% in 2016.
Although 22 nations in the union posted an increase in R&D intensity, six posted a decrease, the most pronounced of which came from Finland dropping from 3.34% in 2006 to 2.75% a decade later.
The spending for R&D in the business sector was the highest in all EU states except Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania, who focused resources on higher education.
“In order to provide a stimulus to the EU’s competitiveness, an increase by 2020 of the R&D intensity to 3% in the EU is one of the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy,” Eurostat said.
“The business enterprise sector continues to be the main sector in which R&D expenditure was spent, accounting for 65% of total R&D conducted in 2016, followed by the higher education sector (23%), the government sector (112%) and the private non-profit sector (1%).”
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