Spanish R&D Spending Grows Again In 2017 After 2016 Slowdown, But Without Reaching Pre-Crisis Levels

Spanish R&D spending grows again in 2017 after 2016 slowdown, but still in pre-crisis levelsSpanish R&D

The Foundation for the Study of Applied Economics (FEDEA) has published a report, in which it analyses the situation of the Spanish R&D system with provision data recently made available by the National Statistic Institute (INE) for the Statistics for Research Activities in 2017.

The data for 2017 shows the recovery in the sector regaining strength after the slowdown the year before. The total expenditure on R&D grew 6% compared to 2016. Companies increased their expenditure on R&D by 8% and the public sector slightly more than 2%. These growth rates recall those of the years before the crisis but are still not sufficient for Spain to escape the small group of European countries (in which we are accompanied by Finland, Rumania, Lithuania and Portugal) who still have not recovered pre-crisis levels of R&D spending. The total expenditure on R&D reached 14.052 billion euros, which amounts to 1.2% of GDP, which is the same as the level of R&D spending registered in 2004.

45% of total R&D expenditure /6.334 billion) has been spent by the public sector, which puts us far from the normal distribution in advanced countries where corporate R&D spending can be of the order of three quarters of the total. The distribution of researchers between these two sectors shows the same anomaly: only 37% work in the private sector. The geographical distribution is characterised but the same heterogeneity: 90% of R&D spending is concentrated in 9 autonomous communities.

As for the breakdown according to size of companies, 10,175 companies declared R&D activities in 2017, of which 1,018 had more than 250 employees and 2.689 were medium-sized companies with workforces of between 50 and 250 workers. The number of this second group has remained stable during the crisis, suggesting that their ability to create and assimilate technology has made them less vulnerable.

The FEDEA report includes a summary of the 2018 editions of three annual reports on innovation greater global reach: The European Innovation Scorecard (EIS), the Global Innovation Index (GII) and the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), published annually by the World Economic Forum. The first analyses and compares the indicators from 36 countries, among which are those in the EU, and the other two more than a hundred economies in five continents. The conclusions of these reports are consistent with the situation revealed by INE’s statistics. The EIS rates Spain as a “moderate innovator”, with an index 83.9% of the European average. The GII assigns Spain number 28 of the 127 countries studies and the GCR number 26 of 140.