Throughout the period up to 2030 the developed nations will continue their historic domination of innovation in science and technology (1), capitalising on their educational systems, commercial infrastructure, and existing pre-eminence.
- the major economic areas of the US, Japan, and the European Union (EU) currently dominate overall expenditure on research and development (R&D);
- the United States currently accounts for around 43% (2) of the developed world’s combined public and commercial R&D expenditure. US R&D investments outdistance, by more than two to one, R&D investments made by Japan, the second largest performer, as well as the aggregate efforts of the EU, which account for the third large grouping (with the UK pre-eminent within the EU).
- in terms of focus, the US and EU are primarily spending on the automotive, aerospace, health (pharmaceuticals), industrial development (communications and chemical sectors), with a greater emphasis by the Japanese on energy;
- the overall trend according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures is for expenditure on R&D to increase;
- whilst these patterns will evolve, the dominance by the West will persist. For the next 15 years the US will lead technology innovation; it will remain the world’s largest market (the biggest buyer and seller of goods) and will continue to generate huge amounts of research funding commercially, but equally through continued government policy of direct research investment and commercial incentives.
- China and India may well challenge niche areas (perhaps in biotechnology and information technology respectively) given their rapidly growing economies, established technological bases, active government spending on research, and less ethically-constrained research environment.
(1) For the purposes of this analysis science is defined as the systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the material and physical universe. Technology is defined as the tangible products or ‘application' of basic science. Research and Development (R&D) is also a key component of the science and technology dimension, particularly in stimulating innovation.
(2) Figures quoted for this statistic vary from 38-45%, according to source, year and definition.