Research and development is the bedrock of innovation. A big investment in R&D indicates a thriving and entrepreneurial industrial spirit, and figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) highlight the countries spending the most – and least – on this important driver of economic growth, which covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development.


Israel and Korea are the biggest spenders on R&D at 4.21% and 4.15% of GDP respectively. Japan, Finland and Sweden complete the top 5.

Germany and the United States have similar levels of R&D investment at just under 3%, and while China has built its economy making products designed and developed overseas, its research spend is rapidly catching up at 2% of GDP.

Of the OECD member nations, Chile spends the least on R&D at 0.36%, with Romania and Mexico only slightly ahead.

If you’d like to learn more, read What is government’s role in sparking innovation? and 10 ways countries can improve their competitiveness.

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Paul Muggeridge is Head of Content at Formative Content.

Image: Scientists work in the Human and Molecular Genetics Center Sequencing Core at the Medical College of Wisconsin. REUTERS/Jim Young