Innovation and commercialisation will be key drivers in Scotland's transition towards a low carbon economy, and in delivering faster sustainable economic growth. Innovation is crucial for businesses to maintain profitability and competitiveness, and to provide high value products and services in a competitive, globalised knowledge-based economy. Research and Development (R&D) activity is a key component of innovation and also demonstrates the strength of the economy in terms of having the required expertise, skills and knowledge-exchange environment that enables businesses to gain a competitive edge.
Gross expenditure on R&D includes that of businesses, government and higher education. Scotland has positive performance indicators for our R&D in areas dominated by public sector decisions (e.g. higher education spend), but is weak in those areas dominated by the private sector, such as Business Enterprise Research and Development.
Whilst Government undertakes R&D itself it also supports business expenditure through a range of innovation, commercialisation and knowledge exchange initiatives. Historically, the focus has been on promoting the scale and effectiveness of supply. Progress has been made in this - restructuring the enterprise networks has allowed them to focus and streamline their support for innovation, investment and enterprise activities, with Scottish Enterprise's Innovation Support Service providing a range of products and support for businesses. There is scope though for further refinement and a challenge to incentivise business demand and encourage greater participation in knowledge-exchange collaborations. Initiatives such as Interface provide a free brokerage service throughout Scotland that matches businesses seeking to develop new products or services with relevant expertise within Scotland's academic institutes.
Between 2015 and 2016 the gap in total research and development spending as a percentage of GDP between Scotland and the EU decreased from 0.44 percentage points to 0.40 percentage points.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
This evaluation is based on: any difference in the gap within +/- 0.05 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease in the gap of 0.05 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 0.05 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Scottish Funding Council
Wealthier and Fairer