Brussels, 24 Jun 2003
A report by the Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology has highlighted the importance of increasing the number of research personnel as well as technology absorptive capacity when striving to increase EU research spending to three per cent of GDP by 2010 - the challenge set by Heads of State and Government in Barcelona in 2002.
The proposed target would see industry contributing two thirds of all research investment, while the remainder would be provided by the public sector. The report calculates that, in order to meet the target, gross expenditure by industry on research needs to increase at an average annual rate of 7.5 per cent until 2010 - a figure significantly higher than the last decade's growth rate of two per cent. Similarly, public investment needs to rise by 3.5 per cent over the same period, while the corresponding figure in the last ten years was 0.8 per cent.
However, the report notes that while scientific equipment will be improved as a result of this increase in spending, attempts to increase research personnel may not be as successful. The report claims that this could lead to a new pressure.
'The current research personnel of 1,366,170 researchers supported by 1,065,745 assistants may not be able to rise by [the same rates as investment]. Research personnel resources are scarce as talent is limited and training takes a long time. Increasing investment in RTD [research and technological development] without increasing by the same rate the pool of research personnel will lead to inflationary pressures (salary increase), without the corresponding increase in scientific output and innovation,' claims the report.
The report also describes how some countries which do not invest much in research themselves gain from absorbing spillovers from those that do. It is therefore 'important to both further strengthen RTD leading to world class results but also reinforce absorptive capacities to maximise social returns on RTD investment in Europe,' argues the paper.
The report outlines ways in which this absorptive growth can be developed within European regions. These include improving the science base and quality of human capital, as well as intellectual property rights, and encouraging networking and linkages between institutions involved in the knowledge transfer process.
Also contained in the report are recommendations for further investigation in order to ascertain the perfect policy mix. In particular, the report calls for further analysis of the relationship between RTD and productivity growth, as well as the determinants of RTD spending.
To read the full report, please consult the following web address: