Global research and development (R&D) spending is forecast to grow by 3.7 percent, or $53.7 billion in 2013 to $1.5 trillion, according to the closely watched forecast by Battelle and R&D Magazine. While much remains uncertain about the future of the U.S. R&D enterprise, China’s march to prominence in the global R&D arena remains constant and strong, accounting for $23. billion on the coming year’s projected growth.

The full report can be found here.

Despite the growth, global economic conditions will continue to affect R&D investment in 2013. “In a year of economic upheaval and turmoil, it’s important to remember that R&D is not an instrument that can be quickly turned on and off to trigger economic growth,” said co-author Martin Grueber, a Battelle Research Leader.

The U.S. R&D enterprise—which accounts for 8.3 million jobs—is expecting to see expenditures grow by 1.2 percent to $423.7 billion. The forecasters assumed that some level of compromise regarding the federal fiscal cliff will either be reached, or its effects delayed beyond Jan. 2, 2013.

“The watchword heading into 2013 is uncertainty, and the effect on U.S. R&D is more unclear than ever,” Grueber said. “The current economic condition and uneasy prospects for the future combined with a federal government funding projection that could range anywhere from flat to significant declines have limited the prospects for 2013.”

Federal Outlook

The U.S. federal government is expected to fund $128.8 billion of R&D in 2013—a decline of 1.4 percent of the $130.7 forecast for 2012. Ongoing budget and deficit concerns continue to strain its ability to invest in R&D.

Industrial Outlook

Industrial R&D funding in the U.S. is forecast to reach $261.7 billion in 2013, a slight 2.3 percent increase over the 2012 forecast estimate of $255.9 billion. Industry funding for R&D in the U.S. is subject to uncertainty, both in overall growth and where this growth should occur.

Academic Outlook

Tthe amount of R&D performed by academia in the U.S. is forecast to increase by only 0.4% to $66.6 billion—reflecting not only slow economic growth but reduced federal funding in 2013 and the end of government stimulus spending from ARRA (America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

Global Outlook

R&D investments have become highly competitive among nations, with each looking to outspend the others to maintain a competitive edge. This internationalization of R&D now pits the U.S., China, Japan and the EU against each other and these emerging economies have developed strong R&D programs that are now challenging the U.S. dominance in a number of specific areas.

Industry snapshots

Detailed information on five key industry segments of the R&D enterprise are presented in full in the report. Links are below.

Life Science: Cost efficiency, healthcare outcomes and leveraging information are major themes in life science R&D.

Information and Communication Technologies: The pace of technology development and deployment is accelerating along with the complexities of integrating big data into business processes.

Aerospace/Defense/Security: Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, defensive and offensive cyber activities, and anyalysis of very large datasets are interconnected drivers of glob al research in this sector.

Energy: New reserves of natural gas and oil in North America are rapidly reshaping the global energy landscape and driving R&D. Ten years ago, fracking technologies were relatively unknown. Today they promise to change the future of the U.S. economy.

Chemicals and Advanced Materials: There is a generally positive outlook for this innovation-intensive business which tends to have a ripple effect in the world of R&D. Global collaboration models in materials science continue to be popular within corporations as a well as among public research institutions and universities.

Global Researcher Survey

The report also includes the annual survey of the global researcher community, providing a unique perspective on the global R&D community representing countries from Argentina to Vietnam. Improvements in the sampling strategy and distribution have increased and diversified the respondent base. Two overarching trends among global researchers are concerns about budgets and the increasing time constraints put on the R&D process.

This year’s report is the 55th annual R&D Funding Forecast created by R&D Magazine and the 19th done jointly with Battelle. The Forecast draws upon information from a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the International Monetary Fund and the White House Office of Science and Technology policy. Other sources are listed on page 35. 

Source: Battelle / R&D Magazine