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OECD governments must maintain spending on science and innovation to strengthen their long-term growth in the face of rising global competition, according to a new OECD report.
The Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2010 shows that real growth in R&D spending by OECD countries has in fact slowed, with annual growth falling from over 4% in recent years to 3.1% in 2008.
But, despite the economic crisis, some countries have increased their spending since 2008. Germany, Korea, Sweden and the US have boosted spending on public research to strengthen long-term innovation.
Emerging economies continue to increase their spending on R&D. China's real expenditure on R&D in 2008 was equivalent to 13% of the OECD total, up from around 5% in 2001. The Russian Federation's R&D spending in 2008 was equal to 2% of the OECD total, close to the shares of Canada and Italy.
"Investment in science and technology is an investment in the future. At a time of fiscal consolidation, countries must carefully consider the long-term impact of spending cuts on science and technology," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. "There is also a need to increase the efficiency of this spending. The right governance structures should be in place if countries are to make the most of the resources devoted to science and technology."
Reviewing the different challenges facing OECD countries in fostering innovation, the report says that a number of key issues need tackling urgently. These include:
* Building a new shared system for the governance of international co-operation in science and technology to address global challenges, such as climate change.
* Improving policy support at different stages of the innovation value chain, from basic research to entrepreneurship.
* Improving access to public research data and upgrading ICT infrastructure.
* Co-ordinating policy at regional, national and international levels.
The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2010 reviews trends and developments in science, technology and innovation policy in OECD countries and six emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and South Africa).
As part of the OECD's 50th anniversary in 2011, this edition of the Outlook also includes a chapter looking at how science and technology have evolved since the 1960s, how the OECD has contributed and the prospects for the 21st century.
The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2010 is available to journalists on the OECD's password-protected website. More data and analysis, including profiles for 40 countries, is available at www.oecd.org/sti/outlook
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