R&D goes global: Policy implications for the Netherlands as a knowledge region in a global perspective

This report is based on a study of the literature, an analysis of statistical data on R&D expenditures and on interviews with R&D leaders within multinational companies in the Netherlands and in China, and with policymakers in The Hague and in the Dutch regions.

The report shows that the globalisation of R&D is clearly visible in the R&D statistics for the Netherlands. Cross-border R&D investments are on the rise. Moreover, the growth in outward R&D investment is not matched by a growth in inward R&D investment. To understand what is happening, the report argues that we need to understand that the globalisation of R&D has two distinctive patterns. The globalisation of business research (aimed at creating new knowledge for innovation) is largely driven by access to excellent and relevant knowledge, access to labour pools of talented researchers, and attractive opportunities for research collaboration. The globalisation of development (aimed at exploiting existing knowledge for innovation), on the other hand, is much more driven by access to attractive markets, proximity to main customers and/or suppliers (in globalised value chains), and proximity to production facilities. Both patterns of globalisation of R&D give rise to different worries and hopes. Outward investments in research suggest that the Netherlands is losing its position in science and technology. Outward investments in development, on the other hand, suggest that Dutch-based MNCs are stepping up their operations in foreign markets. Clearly, retaining and attracting investments in research and in development call for different policy approaches.