The latest available official statistics indicate that, as a group, Research and Development investment in the OECD area grew by 1.8% in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the global economy to a standstill. This reflects how investments in R&D have been an integral part of the response to the crisis, because governments recognise that R&D spurs innovation and growth.
While this represents a drop compared to previous years when annual growth was at 5%, it marks the first time on record in which a global recession did not translate into a drop in R&D expenditures.
This momentum continued after 2020: a preliminary view of R&D spending in 2021 shows improvement for most companies, with ICT and Pharma industry driving most of the growth, spurred on by a pandemic that transformed global ICT needs via teleworking and triggered intense vaccine research. Data for the last quarter of 2021 also point to a swift recovery in the industries whose R&D was the most impacted by the crisis. If sustained throughout 2022, this could lead to a partial reversal in some of the downward trends.