Facts and figures: Business and innovation

From the UNESCO Science Report, Towards 2030

The global average for business R&D was 1.08% of GDP in 2001 and 1.15% in 2011.

China and India are capturing a greater share of business R&D than before, to the detriment of Western Europe and North America. China and India’s combined world share of business R&D rose from 5.1% to 19.9% between 2001 and 2011. Over the same period, the world share of Western Europe declined from 24.3% to 19.7% and that of North America from 40.7% to 29.3%. The world share of Japan and the Asian Tigers remained stable at 21.7% (2011). Other regions contribute a very modest share: the Middle East and North Africa (1.9%), Latin America (1.5%), Eastern Europe (1.4%) and sub-Saharan Africa (0.5%).

The acquisition of machinery and software is more widespread as a method of innovation than in-house R&D in Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS countries). In the BRICS countries, between 64% and 85% of manufacturing firms surveyed in 2013 focus on the acquisition of machinery and software, compared to 17–63% of firms which practice in-house R&D.

The dominance of the Triad (European Union, Japan and USA) for triadic patents (namely, inventions registered with all three patent offices) shrank a little between 2002 and 2012 (from 90.5% to 83%) but was not shaken. This trend mostly reflects strong growth in the world shares of China (up 3.1 percentage points) and the Republic of Korea (up 2.7 percentage points).

The world share of countries outside the Group of 20 (G20) in triadic patenting tripled from 2002 to 2012 but only to attain 1.2%; this underscores the high concentration of technology-based companies at international level in the world economy.

Among high-income countries, Switzerland showed the biggest leap in its world share of triadic patents between 2002–2012, from 1.8% to 2.2% of the total. Australia showed the sheerest drop among G20 countries: from 09% to 0.6% of the total.


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