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data publication
09 April 2021

R&D expenditure by sector of performance, as a % of GDP

On this page we look at R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP for a number of countries. We call this the R&D intensity. We also divide this percentage according to the sectors where the R&D is carried out: companies, higher education and research institutions.

In short:

  • How much do different sectors spend on R&D? What percentage is this of GDP and what are the differences between a number of countries?
  • In most countries, the companies sector spends a higher share of R&D as a percentage of GDP compared to the Netherlands.
  • While R&D as a percentage of GDP spent by the higher education sector in the Netherlands is actually higher than in other countries.

An international comparison of the different sectors

There is a big difference between the R&D intensity of countries. With a percentage of 2.16, the Netherlands is above the average of EU-27, but below a number of countries with which the Netherlands wants to compare. After Korea, Sweden, Japan and Austria dominate. There are also differences in the percentage distribution across the various executive sectors: companies, higher education and research institutions. When looking at the percentage that is executed by companies, the Netherlands scores low: most countries have - compared to the Netherlands - a higher share of the business sector. When looking at the percentage that is carried out by higher education, the Netherlands scores higher than many other countries. At public research institutions, the Netherlands has a lower R&D intensity than EU-27.

R&D intensity increase Korea (2013-2019)
Decrease in R&D intensity Finland (2013-2019)
R&D intensity Netherlands reasonably stable (2013-2019)

R&D intensity development

Looking at the period 2013-2019, Korea (+0.69) and Belgium (+0.56%) show a strong increase in R&D intensity, while Finland (-0.48%) and Ireland (-0.34%) show a strong decrease. The R&D intensity of the Netherlands remains more or less the same, at +0.01%. Most of the reference countries have a faster increase in their R&D intensity. The development of R&D intensity between 2013 and 2019 for the various countries is mainly caused by changes in R&D spending by companies as an executive sector.

Definitions and acronyms