EU investment in R&D increased to €328 billion in 2021

The EU spent €328 billion on research & development (R&D) in 2021, up 6% compared with the previous year (€310 billion). Compared with 2011, there was a 43.9% increase, according to figures published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

When looking at R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, data show a decrease from 2.31% in 2020 to 2.27% in 2021. This fall could be explained by GDP rebound in 2021 after the significant drop in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, compared with 2019 (2.23%), before the pandemic, R&D intensity increased by 0.04 percentage points (pp) in 2021, while compared with the previous 10 years, it increased by 0.25 pp.

R&D is a major driver of innovation, and R&D expenditure and intensity are two of the key indicators used to monitor resources devoted to science and technology worldwide.

Among the EU Member States, the highest R&D intensity in 2021 was recorded in Sweden (3.35%), followed by Austria (3.22%) and Belgium (3.19%). Six Member States reported R&D expenditure below 1% of their GDP in 2021: Romania (0.48%), Malta (0.65%), Latvia (0.71%), Bulgaria (0.81%), Cyprus (0.89%) and Slovakia (0.95%).

Two-thirds of EU Member States reported a higher R&D intensity in 2021 than in 2011. However, the most significant decreases in R&D intensity took place in Finland (-0.64 pp), Estonia (-0.51 pp), Ireland (-0.49 pp) and Luxembourg (-0.41 pp).

At the other end of the range, the biggest increases in R&D intensity between 2011 and 2021 were recorded in Belgium (+1.02 pp), Greece (+0.76 pp), Poland (+0.69 pp), Austria (+0.55 pp) and Croatia (+0.53 pp).

When we look at R&D expenditure by sector in the EU, the business enterprise sector continued to account for the largest share of the R&D (66.08% of total R&D disbursed in 2021), followed by the higher education sector (21.58%), the government sector (11.89%) and the private non-profit sector (0.44%).

Source: Emirates News Agency