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Brussels, 12 May 2010

Digital Agenda: Information and Communication Technologies top total corporate R&D investment in Europe

Europe's Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, accounting for just 4.8% of GDP, leads the way in private research and development (R&D) in the EU, with 25% of total investment and 32% of researchers working in the private sector in 2007, according to a European Commission report released today. However, even with these numbers the EU is still lagging behind global competitors in terms of both public and private ICT R&D investment. This investment gap is identified as one problem to tackle by the forthcoming European Digital Agenda, one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "To help achieve our goal of investing 3% of GDP in research and development, Europe needs to double its public spending on ICT R&D by 2020 and also create the best conditions for the private sector to do the same."

The report released today was carried out by experts in the European Commission's Joint Research Centre for the period 2002-2007. The statistics show that the EU is lagging behind its main competitors (the US, Canada, Japan and South Korea) in terms of corporate R&D investments in the ICT sector. R&D business investment is 2.5 times greater in the US (€83.8 billion in purchasing power parity) than in the EU (€34.1 billion). 50% of R&D patents submitted by US-based inventors are in ICT technologies compared to 20% by European researchers. However, lower R&D investment in the EU compared to the US does not necessarily mean that individual EU ICT companies invest less in R&D than their international competitors. The disparity is largely due to the smaller size and slower growth rate of European ICT companies.

R&D in ICT across Member States

In 2007, Germany alone accounted for 27% of employment in the ICT manufacturing sub-sectors, while the UK remained the leader in ICT services, taking up 19% of jobs. These two countries, together with France, contributed to more than half of business R&D expenditure in ICT, and generated three out of four of all European patents in ICT technologies, with Germany in the lead, with almost 45%. Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden are the only four Member States whose number of ICT patent applications is similar to or above the US ratio of 110 patents for every million people in 2006. Finland and Sweden invest the largest amount of business R&D expenditure in ICT in relation to their GDP, above the US level (see annex)

When it comes to public funding, EU governments fund a smaller share of ICT R&D in relation to total public funding for R&D compared to the US. In 2007, 6% of total public funding for R&D in the EU (€5.3 billion) went to the ICT sector, while it was close to 9% in the US (€10.4 billion). Finland, Sweden and Spain were the countries with the highest levels of ICT public funding in relation to their GDP, close to the US level.

Despite the strong increase in R&D investments made by the ICT sector in the new EU Member States, this expenditure is still low in relation to their GDP. However, spectacular increases in ICT manufacturing employment have occurred in Hungary (42%) and the Czech Republic (44%).

Background information

This report was commissioned by the European Commission's Directorate General for Information Society and Media and carried out by experts at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), one of the seven scientific institutes of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). The work focused on three complementary perspectives: national statistics covering both private and public R&D expenditure, company data and technology-based indicators. It relies on the latest available official statistics delivered by the Member States, Eurostat and the OECD.

In 2009, the European Commission committed to increase the annual funding available under the ICT part of its overall research programme from €1.1 billion in 2010 to €1.7 billion in 2013. It called on Member States to match this budget increase at national level with diverted and new sources of financing including pre-commercial procurements of research results and cohesion policy funds (IP/09/397).

More on ICT Research

The report on investment in ICT R&D in the European Union is available at:


Contribution of the ICT/non-ICT sectors to total private R&D intensity

by EU Member State,

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Source: JRC-IPTS based on data from Eurostat, OECD, EU KLEMS and national statistics

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