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R&D Business Investment in the EU ICT Sector

  • Authors: Sven Lindmark, Geomina Turlea, Martin Ulbrich
  • EUR Number: 23250 EN
  • Publication date: 2/2008


The EU spends only about half as much on R&D in ICT as the US. This holds true both in absolute amounts and relative to the size of the economy. Indeed, the ICT sector alone is responsible for as much of the overall R&D investment gap as all other sectors combined. From the current data analysis, there are no signs of the ICT R&D investment gap closing.
At ICT sector level, the R&D investment gap exists partly because the ICT sector is smaller in the EU than in the US and partly because of the lower R&D intensity of the sector in the EU. The lower R&D intensity is, in turn, primarily due to two sub-sectors: computer services and software on the one hand, and electronic measurement instruments on the other hand. On the positive side, and contrary to the rest of the ICT sector, these two sub-sectors also show strong R&D growth in the EU.
Company data indicates that EU companies have R&D intensities similar to their US counterparts in every sub-sector, but are concentrated in less R&D intensive sub-sectors (e.g. telecom services). The US companies are also larger and more numerous in most sub-sectors. These data suggest that the ICT R&D gap between the US and the EU reflects, more than anything, a lack of European firms in the ICT sector.
Among the member states, Finland and Sweden make the highest R&D effort in this sector, relative to their size. In general, Northern member states invest more than Southern member states, and the Western member states invest much more than the Eastern ones, which display very low levels of ICT R&D.

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