Researchers predict business-as-usual approach to industrial R&D investment

May 12, 2005

Brussels, 11 May 2005

The first ever survey of research and development (R&D) personnel across all industrial sectors in Europe has revealed that most participants predict there will be little change in their companies' R&D investment levels over the next five years, and perhaps even a slight decrease.

This is one of the key findings in an initial report from the survey, which was carried out by Claus Hillebrand in cooperation with Euroscience, and received nearly 1,000 individual responses. The survey had two key objectives: to better understand the motivations and working conditions of industrial researchers in Europe, and to collect suggestions for increasing the competitiveness of Europe's industrial R&D.

Regarding the latter of these two objectives, respondents identified two main factors for improving industrial research competitiveness - reduced bureaucracy and making research and development more attractive for potential personnel. On the other side of the coin, participants cited low public acceptance for new technologies as the main disadvantage faced by industrial R&D in Europe compared with other regions of the world.

Under the sub-heading 'the European Research Area', the survey reveals that: 'Researchers are generally not well represented in political bodies (parliaments and ministries). Moreover, the industrial R&D personnel does not have a strong lobby group.' Up to 70 per cent of researchers, however, would be happy to participate in working groups in order to reinforce the ERA. However, the report adds that some comments made by participants indicate that individual understanding of the European Research Area concept is still vague.

Switching to the motivation and working conditions of industrial research personnel, the results show that when it comes to mobility, slightly more respondents (70 per cent) would be willing to move abroad than move to another location in the same country (66 per cent), provided it is their company that suggests the move. Interestingly, the preferred locations for international assignments are EU15 countries, followed by Switzerland and Norway, and then locations such as the US, Canada and Australia.

When it comes to start-up activity, the majority of respondents said they would be willing to work for an early-stage venture, but were far less inclined to create a start-up themselves due to the financial risks involved and their lack of administrative skills. 'There is a certain lack of confidence with regards to attracting venture capital or credits,' the report adds.

Finally, around 80 per cent of industrial researchers say that knowledge of a foreign language is indispensable in their work, and personal contact with researchers in the public sector (particularly within universities) is also seen as being of particular benefit to industrial researchers and their companies.
For further information, please contact:
Claus D. Hillebrand

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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