Low business R&D a major threat to the European knowledge-based economy
European Commission - IP/07/790 11/06/2007
Brussels, 11 June 2007
Today the European Commission presents a new publication on Europe’s position in research and innovation. The “Key figures 2007 on Science, Technology and Innovation” shows that R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as % of GDP) in Europe has stagnated since the mid-nineties, while major competitors such as Japan, China or South Korea have been able to increase substantially their R&D effort, shaping a world where knowledge is more evenly distributed than ever before. Moreover, the R&D investment deficit against the US has remained constant over recent years. In particular, the low level of business R&D in the EU remains worrying. Key Figures 2007 shows that differences in the industrial structure of the EU compared to countries such as the US are the main cause for this low level of business R&D, with the EU having a smaller high-tech industrial sector, which usually has much higher levels of R&D spending. The new actions taken in Europe since 2005 in the context of the revised Lisbon Strategy need to be implemented if Europe is to successfully face this challenge.
"Knowledge is a key component of competitiveness" said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “If our businesses are to be at the leading edge in the future, they need to invest in knowledge now. And governments need to put in place the appropriate measures to help them do so. "
Since the last Key Figures in 2005, policy-makers have launched new initiatives at both EU and Member State level in order to boost the "Europe of Knowledge": The ambitious Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) has been adopted and is now underway with a substantially higher budget than its predecessor, FP6. Member States have made new and far-reaching commitments within the framework of the renewed Lisbon strategy by setting future R&D intensity targets. The recently published ERA Green Paper has launched a wide-ranging debate on the future orientations of the European Research Area (ERA).
Key Figures 2007 presents data and statistics on science, technology and innovation up to 2005, thus predating these recent initiatives and renewed commitments. It shows however that these recent policy developments are now more than ever needed, for at least five reasons:
Link to the report: