By international standards, Germany has been in the top league of countries with a high level of R&D intensity for many years. In recent years, Germany has seen positive developments, both in terms of R&D expenditure and R&D personnel. R&D intensity in Germany has increased steadily since 2006. Today, Germany performs well above the OECD average of 2.37% for this indicator.
Around the world, R&D expenditure has seen strong growth in the last few years. Total worldwide R&D expenditure for 2001 is estimated at 753 billion US dollars in terms of purchasing-power parities. The corresponding figure for 2006 is considered to be 1,051 billion US dollars, with 1,478 billion US dollars being spent worldwide on R&D in 2013. Figure II-11 shows that R&D mainly takes place in three geographical regions: North America, Asia and Europe. In 2013, North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) accounted for 28.9% of the world’s R&D expenditure, 22.7% was invested in Europe, with this figure rising to 41.6% in South-East, West and South Asia. The remaining 7% of worldwide R&D expenditure is divided between the regions of Central and South America, the Middle East, Australia and Oceania, and Africa.
The three largest R&D performing countries (USA, China and Japan) together account for over half of the total worldwide R&D expenditure in 2013. The United States is the clear leader in this category, with a share of 27% of all expenditure around the world. In 2001, this figure was some 37%. China moved up to second place in 2013, with 20% of the world’s total R&D expenditure, while Japan ranked third with 10%. These are followed by Germany in fourth place, with a share of 6% of global R&D expenditure, ahead of South Korea, France, Russia, Great Britain and India, which each account for 2 to 4% of worldwide R&D expenditure.
The development of R&D intensity is the central indicator when considering Germany‘s R&D expenditure compared to other countries (cf. also Fig. II-12). Since the formulation of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000, the Member States of the European Union have been striving to reach an R&D investment level of 3% of gross domestic product (GDP).
With GERD at 2.88% of GDP in 2014, Germany managed to achieve a very good result by international standards. R&D intensity in Germany has increased steadily since 2006. Today, Germany scores well above the OECD average of 2.37% and even ahead of the United States with 2.74%.
Average R&D expenditure of the EU-15 came to 2.07% in 2013. In terms of R&D intensity in Europe, Germany is in fifth place among the EU-28 countries, behind Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Austria.
By contrast, R&D intensity levels below 1.5% are often reported by countries that are undergoing economic catch-up processes; nevertheless, countries like Italy (1.31%) and Spain (1.26%) are also below the 1.5% mark (cf. also Fig. II-13).
Figure II-14 shows the development of R&D expenditure in the business enterprise sector, compared to important OECD countries. This attests to Germany‘s strong position, particularly within Europe.
Depending on the country, the emphasis placed on R&D in the public sector differs enormously. The corresponding shares vary greatly among the highly developed economies: while R&D expenditure in France’s public sector, for example, amounts to around 34% of total R&D expenditure, the United States invests about 25% and Korea some 20% of the overall funding.
In Germany, the public sector accounted for around 33% of gross domestic expenditure on R&D in 2013, of which 18% was allocated to the universities and 15% to non-university research facilities.
In recent years, Germany’s Higher Education Expenditure on R&D (HERD) has risen appreciably, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP; this may in part be attributed to the momentum resulting from the Initiative for Excellence and the Higher Education Pact 2020 (cf. also Fig. II-15).
R&D expenditure in the public sector has undergone a similar development. The R&D expenditure of non-university and departmental research institutes in Germany has continued to rise in recent years (cf. also Fig. II-16). Germany is thus leading the way in Europe, setting itself apart from all other European countries.
The increase in public R&D spending in Germany also reflects recent endeavours to boost non-university research. Particular mention should be made here of the annual 3% increases in the basic institutional funding of the science and research organisations, which are borne jointly by the Federal Government and the Länder, as agreed in the Pact for Research and Innovation (by 2020).
A comparison of R&D personnel by country entails a certain degree of ambiguity. Particularly in non-OECD states, methodological problems tend to hamper attempts to survey R&D personnel consistently.
Figure II-17 shows the development of knowledge-intensive employment in selected countries, based on R&D personnel intensity (full-time equivalent R&D personnel per thousand employed persons). Since the beginning of the decade, there has a marked increase in personnel intensity in Germany.
In a global context, the total number of R&D personnel (scientific personnel, technical personnel, other personnel) is more difficult to estimate because the relevant statistical data are incomplete. The number of scientists serves as a benchmark. According to OECD figures, the worldwide scientific personnel workforce grew by more than 40% between 2000 and 2012, reaching a level of approximately 6.5 million researchers in 2012, in all OECD countries and in China, Argentina, Romania, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan. There are an estimated 7.8 million researchers worldwide.
Figure II-18 provides an overview of the global resource input in the areas of R&D, in terms of the three dimensions R&D intensity, percentage of researchers of the total workforce and R&D expenditure for the base year 2014. Despite the abovementioned limitations in the statistical comparability – especially regarding data for BRICS countries – the relevant international positions are once again clear. The figure illustrates the close relationship between R&D expenditure and research personnel with regard to the total workforce. This representation shows Germany’s relative proximity to the United States and Japan, as well as other European countries. Significantly, the BRICS countries (still) show relatively low levels of R&D intensity and research personnel intensity. The variations in this overall interrelationship may be due to the differing R&D costs (especially expenditure on R&D personnel) or to the patterns of R&D specialisation. The rate of economic growth in the BRICS countries over the past few years attests to their huge R&D potential, provided the necessary basis is established.
 Calculation pursuant to OECD-MSTI 2015/1, Table 7: Researchers in all OECD countries and in China, Argentina, Romania, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan.
 Based on the data in the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, Table 1.2, Bonn.