Times of crisis and opportunity

Government R&D expenditures may need to shift to reflect new priorities


As shown by a tentative, experimental mapping of government R&D support onto four Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) clusters over the last three decades (Figure 12), support for industry and knowledge has been the fastest growing SDG-related cluster category, partly due to the growing popularity of R&D tax incentives. Funding for health and society reached a peak in 2009, while there has been limited growth in support for R&D on planet and infrastructure SDGs. If health and the environment are increasingly prioritised in the wake of the pandemic, and growing attention is given to the climate emergency, these trends could change sharply in the coming years, especially if R&D tax incentives play a less prominent role in future policy mixes.

Estimates of total government support for R&D by SDG-related cluster categories, 1990-2018

Million constant USD PPP prices

Source: OECD (2020). “OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators. R&D Highlights in the February 2020 Publication”, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation.

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