Investment in knowledge growing in OECD, but EU still lagging behind

A new OECD report shows that investment in R&D and software continue to grow in the developed world. However, the EU is still far off the 3 per cent target.

The OECD's Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2003 brings together internationally comparable data on trends in the knowledge-based economy. It revealed that both investment in research and development (R&D) and investment in new technologies rose in 2001 and 2002 in the OECD Member States.

Investment in knowledge is highest in the US with 7 per cent of GDP, followed by Sweden and Finland. The OECD average was about 4.8 per cent, of which almost half for R&D, and the rest for higher education and software.

R&D expenditure has risen faster in the US than in the EU and Japan. In 2001, the R&D intensity of the EU reached 1.9 per cent of GDP, the highest level since 1991, but is still well below the Lisbon target of

3 per centin 2010. Sweden, Finland, Japan and Iceland were the only OECD countries in which the investment exceeded 3 per cent, while the US remained stable at 2.8 per cent. Most of the rise in R&D expenditure is due to higher business investment, about 23 per cent of which was accounted for by the service sector.

Among the new technologies, nanotechnology is one of the most rapidly growing targets of R&D funding, but it still accounts for only a small share of total R&D. Between 1997 and 2000, public R&D funding in this area trebled to 293 million dollars in the US, doubled to 210 million dollars in the EU and doubled to 190 million dollars in Japan.


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