These Countries Are the Top Spenders on Research and Development

Funding for research and development is increasing around the world as governments, companies and academic institutions strive to remain competitive in sectors shaped by technology.

More than $2 trillion will be invested this year in technological development and innovation, according to the 2018 Global R&D Funding Forecast, a compilation produced by R&D Magazine. From that figure, 43.6 percent of the spending will emanate from Asia. By the mid-2020s, the report shows spending in artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and adjacent software will dominate the R&D landscape.

Investment in R&D is highly influenced by a country’s economic power, as well as the importance that the nation places on research. The United States still leads the global ranking in R&D spending, with an amount equivalent to 2.84 percent of its gross domestic product forecast to go into this sector this year, according to the forecast. The U.S. will increase its spending in R&D from 538 billion in 2017 to $553 billion this year, an increase of nearly 3 percent.

China follows closely on the list for overall spending in R&D, with a projected investment of $475 billion this year, up from $445 billion in 2017, according to the forecast. However, the country invests the smallest equivalent percentage of its GDP in R&D of the five countries that spend the most. R&D spending in China this year is expected to represent 1.97 percent of its GDP, up from 1.96 percent in 2017.

Japan spends more on R&D as a share of its GDP than the U.S. and China, and will rank No. 3 in total R&D spending in 2018, according to the forecast. The East Asian country’s estimated R&D expenditures in 2017 represented 3.5 percent of its GDP , and that share is expected to be unchanged this year. Japan spent an estimated $185.5 billion last year and is expected to increase its R&D budget by about $1 billion this year.

The only European country in the top five spenders on R&D, Germany, is expected to increase its funding this year by $2 billion from 2017, to a projected figure of more than $116 billion, according to the forecast. The country’s spending on R&D is expected to represent 2.84 percent of its GDP, a share that will be unchanged from 2017.

Coming in at No. 5 is South Korea, projected to spend $88.2 billion this year on R&D, according to the forecast. Its spending in the sector this year will represent about 4.3 percent of its GDP, a figure that is relatively unchanged from 2017.

The top 10 spenders in research and development also include India, with $83 billion forecast to be spent in 2018; France, with $63 billion in projected spending; Russia at $59 billion; the United Kingdom with about $50 billion; and Brazil, with approximately $37 billion expected to be spent this year on R&D.

Finishing last among the 40 countries ranked on the forecast is Bangladesh, which is expected to spend about $5 billion this year on research and development. That spending level would represent 0.55 percent of its GDP. The spending on R&D in the top 40 countries totals $2.11 trillion of the about $2.19 trillion worldwide that goes into technological development and innovation.

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