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Spending on research and development (R&D) by the world’s most industrialised nations has grown on average almost 4 per cent a year above inflation during the past two decades, according to recently released statistics.

The figures — produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which groups 30 industrialised countries — also show that spending has accelerated since the mid-1990s, mainly due to spending increases in the United States.

Businesses funded most of the increase: over the past decade, the business sector’s share of R&D funding grew from 57 per cent to 67 per cent in the United States, and from 52 per cent to 55 per cent in the European Union (although remaining stable in Japan at around 72 per cent).

The statistics, which cover indices of scientific activity as well as the ‘information economy’ and economic growth in OECD countries, are published in The Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard: towards a Knowledge-based Economy 2001.

© SciDev.Net 2001