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National Indicator: Research and Development

 Increase research and development spending

Indicator Measure
Scotland's Gross Expenditure on Research and Development as a percentage of GDP compared to EU average

Current Status
Total research and development spending as a share of GDP was 1.54% for Scotland in 2016; this is lower than the share for the EU as a whole at 1.94% in 2016 (a gap of 0.40 percentage points).

Spending on research and development in Scotland has increased between 2006 and 2016, from 1.22% of GDP in 2006 to 1.54% of GDP in 2016. Spending on research and development as a share of GDP has increased faster in Scotland than in the EU as a whole during this period. Hence, comparing 2006 and 2016, the gap between spending in Scotland and the EU decreased from 0.46 to 0.40 percentage points.

Increase research and development - chart 1Chart 2

Source: Gross Expenditure on Research and Development Scotland, Scottish Government and Main Science and Technology Indicators, OECD
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Last Update: 28 March 2018
Next Update: March 2019

Increase research and development spending

Why is this National Indicator important?
What will influence this National Indicator?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
Criteria for recent change
Further information
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives

Why is this National Indicator important?

Innovation and commercialisation will be key drivers in Scotland's transition towards a low carbon economy, and in delivering faster sustainable economic growth. Innovation is crucial for businesses to maintain profitability and competitiveness, and to provide high value products and services in a competitive, globalised knowledge-based economy. Research and Development (R&D) activity is a key component of innovation and also demonstrates the strength of the economy in terms of having the required expertise, skills and knowledge-exchange environment that enables businesses to gain a competitive edge.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Gross expenditure on R&D includes that of businesses, government and higher education. Scotland has positive performance indicators for our R&D in areas dominated by public sector decisions (e.g. higher education spend), but is weak in those areas dominated by the private sector, such as Business Enterprise Research and Development.

What is the Government's role?

Whilst Government undertakes R&D itself it also supports business expenditure through a range of innovation, commercialisation and knowledge exchange initiatives. Historically, the focus has been on promoting the scale and effectiveness of supply. Progress has been made in this - restructuring the enterprise networks has allowed them to focus and streamline their support for innovation, investment and enterprise activities, with Scottish Enterprise's Innovation Support Service providing a range of products and support for businesses. There is scope though for further refinement and a challenge to incentivise business demand and encourage greater participation in knowledge-exchange collaborations. Initiatives such as Interface provide a free brokerage service throughout Scotland that matches businesses seeking to develop new products or services with relevant expertise within Scotland's academic institutes.

How is Scotland performing?

Between 2015 and 2016 the gap in total research and development spending as a percentage of GDP between Scotland and the EU decreased from 0.44 percentage points to 0.40 percentage points.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

This evaluation is based on: any difference in the gap within +/- 0.05 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease in the gap of 0.05 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 0.05 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Funding Council

Related Strategic Objectives

Wealthier and Fairer

Smarter

View National Indicator Data

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Title:Increase research and development spending
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