calendar tag arrow download print
Skip to content

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

data publication
19 October 2023
R&D expenditure
In this data publication 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 2.27, the Netherlands is above the average of EU-27, but below a number of countries with which the Netherlands wants to compare. While the R&D intensity of the Netherlands remained fairly stable in the period 2013-2019, it increased in 2020 and declined in 2021 slightly. This is not only due to additional investments, but also due to a decline in GDP due to the COVID-19 crisis. We saw this in more countries. After Korea, Sweden and Belgium will have the highest R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2020.

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.

facts and figures

+1,29 Percerntage point increase R&D intensity United Kingdom (2013-2021)

-0,46 Percentage point decrease in R&D intensity Ireland (2013-2021)

+0,11 R&D intensity Netherlands reasonably stable (2013-2021)

R&D intensity development
Looking at the period 2013-2021, United Kingdom (+1.29), Belgium (+1.10 percentage point) and Korea (+0.98) have seen a strong increase in R&D intensity, while Ireland (- 0.46 percentage point) and Finland (-0.29) show a strong decrease. The COVID-19 crisis is impacting these numbers. For example, in the period 2013-2019, the percentage in Belgium increased by +0.84 percentage point, Korea by +0.69 percentage point and in Finland it decreased by -0.48 percentage point. In most countries, the percentage has increased in 2020.

The R&D intensity of the Netherlands remained more or less the same in the period 2013-2019, at +0.03 percentage point. In the period 2013-2021 it will increase by +0.11 percentage point. Most of the reference countries have a faster increase in their R&D intensity. The development of R&D intensity between 2013 and 2020 for the various countries is mainly caused by changes in R&D spending by companies as an executive sector.