Global R&D spending will increase in 2012 with continued strong growth in emerging economies and stable growth in established economies.
Global R&D spending is expected to grow by about 5.2% to more than $1.4 trillion in 2012, according to an analysis performed by Battelle and R&D Magazine. This advance is slightly less than the 6.5% growth seen in 2011 following the end of the global recession and accompanying R&D stimulus incentives. Most of the global funding growth is being driven by Asian economies, which are expected to increase nearly 9% in 2012, while European R&D will grow by about 3.5% and North American R&D by 2.8%. U.S. R&D is forecast to grow 2.1% in 2012 to $436 billion.
The U.S., European Union (EU), and Asia continue to be the strongest regions for R&D, with a combined total of nearly 92% of all global spending. R&D growth in emerging economies has lowered the U.S. share of global funding to about 31%, although the U.S. remains dominant in absolute terms, and annual increases in U.S. R&D still exceed the total budgets of most countries.
U.S. Economic Concerns
Federal government spending on R&D in 2012 is forecast to decline by about 1.6% to $125.7 billion, while U.S. industrial spending is forecast to increase by 3.8% to $279.7 billion, and academic spending is projected to increase 2.85% to $12.3 billion. Significant government budget reductions are responsible for the drop in federal R&D spending, although R&D is likely to decline proportionally less than the overall federal budget. R&D sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will see one of the biggest declines (down $2.5 billion to $75 billion forecast for 2012) for the third consecutive year.
The weak U.S. government R&D spending outlook will be partially offset by one of the strongest increases in industrial R&D spending over the past 10 years. This continues a trend of complementary shifts that has helped sustain growth in total U.S. R&D spending. For example, in 2003 and 2004, flat industrial R&D investment was offset by record federal R&D spending, while in 2005 and 2006 industry spending increased and federal government spending decreased.
Part of the 2012 industrial R&D investment can also be attributed to steadily increasing investments by U.S. companies in their offshore research facilities. The overall percentage of such R&D investments is still reasonably small, but many companies are leveraging the economic and collaborative benefits of globalization.
As evidence of the value of scientific discovery as a platform for innovation, the U.S. is targeting about 18% of all R&D at basic research programs, performed mainly in academic and industrial research laboratories. Sponsorship comes mostly from the public sector, with objectives for national scientific leadership and economic competitiveness. Efforts to double the budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) still have supporters in Congress despite efforts to reduce overall government spending.
Commercial outcomes are equally important, and U.S. industries have increased expectations for return on their R&D investment. Though only 10% of the companies surveyed several years ago calculated ROI on their R&D, more than 40% do it now, with most using improvements in product quality, competitiveness, and new product sales as key indicators.
Except for Greece, all countries in the Battelle/R&D Magazine's list of Top 40 global R&D spenders are expected to increase their R&D budgets in 2012. Even economically distressed Italy, Ireland, and Portugal will see significant increases in their R&D investments. The EU continues its strong investments in R&D at the individual country level as well as through the European Commission's (EC's) Framework Programme (FP). The EC is planning to increase its eighth version (FP8) in 2014 by nearly 50% to $15 billion per year in basic R&D programs.
China, which became the world's second largest R&D investor in 2011, remains noteworthy as well. Driven by GDP growth, its rate of spending will remain strong in 2012.
Three new emerging economies joined this Forecast in 2012: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. Starting from relatively small commitments (R&D expenditures at less than 1.0% of gross domestic product), each intends to increase its funding over the next several years to reflect the R&D ratios of more innovation-oriented economies.
This report reflects the global researcher viewpoint of R&D. The multinational respondents to our survey confirm trends reported elsewhere, including expectations of future funding constraints across all R&D sectors—government, industry, and academia—as the most critical concern for researchers. It also reveals that the U.S. continues to be the recognized leader in a broad range of technologies such as aerospace, agriculture, military, materials, and life science.
Forecast Gross Domestic Expenditures on R&D (GERD) Billion of U.S. Dollars
|Global Rank||Country||2010 GDP PPP Bil. U.S. $||
2010 R&D as % GDP
|2010 GERD PPP Bil, U.S. $||
2011 GDP PPP Bil, U.S. $
2011 R&D as % GDP
|2011 GERD PPP Bil, U.S. $||2012 GDP PPP Bil, U.S. $||
2012 R&D as % GDP
2012 GERD PPP Bil, U.S. $
|Source: Battelle, R&D Magazine, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, CIA World Factbook|