close
Advertisement

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
June 18, 2021

Science spending increases by 19% in 4 years: Number of scientists worldwide reaches 8.8 million

NEW YORK: Global R&D spending grew faster than the economy between 2014 and 2018 as countries around the world turned to research to bring on the green and digital transitions, says a new UNESCO report. Worldwide, science spending increased by 19% over the four years, while the number of scientists grew by 13.7% to 8.8 million.

Since the start of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis further boosted this trend.

The 762-page report covers 193 countries. “What struck me with this one is the alignment of development priorities with different income levels, whether they are industrialised or low-income countries,” Susan Schneegans, editor-in-chief of the report, told Science|Business. Countries around the globe are prioritising digital and green R&I investments to boost competitiveness and future preparedness.However, the growth is for the most part, uneven. China and the US together account for 63% of the increase in spending, while the EU countries added a further 11%. Taken together, the G20 countries boast 88.8% of the world’s researchers, 93.2% of research spending and 90.6% of scientific publications.Private sector spending on science in most cases is relatively low, with the public sector accounting for the majority of investment. Incentivising companies and start-ups to do more research and development is one solution to boosting efforts. “But before a company can do R&D, it needs equipment,” Schneegans said. As low and middle income companies strive to catch up, one way to spur private sector investment is R&D tax credits. As one notable example, Indonesia, introduced a 300% tax reduction on research expenditure in 2019. Alongside incentives, companies need capital and a solid regulatory environment. “In Africa, it costs more than 10 times more to patent than in the UK,” Schneegans said, pointing to structural inequalities that can deter private sector investments in science.