Sarah Richardson, Group Editor, Research Professional News
As governments around the world weigh the economic impact of measures to protect their citizens from COVID-19, one of the concerns for the research sector is how the impact of the pandemic will play out in research spending in the months and years to come. So what can global funding trends over the last decade tell us about the potential impact of COVID-19 on research spending?
Countries which have a recent history of high investment in R&D – such as Germany – have seen this play to their advantage in their preparedness to tackle the pandemic, fueling calls in other nations for economic recovery to include greater, rather than reduced, investment in research.
The report tracks patterns in both public and private research funding over the past ten years.
However, with the Asian Development Bank this week predicting the pandemic could cost the global economy between $5.8 and $8.8 trillion, or between 6.4% and 9.7 % of the world’s economic output, whether this will translate into greater priority for funding in future is far from certain.
This uncertain outlook for research spending is compounded by the increasing dominance of business-driven research and development over the past decade, a trend highlighted in a new freely accessible report into Global Funding Trends, published last week by Research Professional News.
The report, which on OECD and UNESCO data to compare trends in research funding in economies across the world, shows that businesses have increasingly solidified their share of R&D in most countries with major research sectors, but there was a short-lived dip after the financial crisis of the late 2000s in the US and Western Europe.
The report tracks patterns in both public and private research funding over the past ten years. It highlights the dramatic rise of China’s overall R&D spending, which by 2018 had increased by more than 150% since 2009 levels, from $204 to $526 billion in 2015 prices.
In the process, China has rapidly closed the gap with the US, where spending increased by 23% over the same term, to reach $552 billion in 2018. Projections of the recent rates of growth by Research Professional News suggested that, before the impact of the pandemic, China would overtake the US sometime around this year.
How both economies respond to the impact of the pandemic will be closely watched in the months to come.
May 25, 2020