4 R&DMagazine WINTER 2018 www.rdmag.com
The R&D Outlook
The global economic forecast, according to the IMF’s October 2017 World Economic Outlook, sees most regions
strengthening in 2018 from previous growth estimates.
Global economic growth is estimated to grow 3.7% in 2017
and 3.8% in 2018, 0.1% higher than the IMF’s April and July
2017 reports. Growth outcomes in the first half of 2017 were
generally stronger than expected, especially for the Euro area,
Japan, China, emerging Europe and Russia. These more than
offset downward revisions for the U.S., the United Kingdom
and India. And with increasing GDP growth estimates come
increasing R&D investments as noted earlier.
Momentum, generally ascribed to the movement of physical
Changing R&D Environment
elements and systems, can also be applied to economic systems
and R&D in particular. This can be seen in the relative relation-
ships of the top R&D spending countries in that their standings
have not changed dramatically over the past ten years. Their
R&D spending has increased as a function of their economic
growth, but generally not in a large way. Saudi Arabia is an
exception to this rule in that they decided to dramatically
increase their R&D investments to develop new technologies
and capabilities that might take over when their natural oil
production (and subsequent revenues) declined. Even China
has maintained an R&D growth momentum that was larger
than most other countries. The U.K.’s Brexit-induced departure
from the European Union does not appear to have caused any
noticeable change in their R&D investments, or that of the EU
as well, but it is still early for this arrangement.
It should be noted that the technological environment for
R&D is changing in scope at a rapid pace. The leading industrial science and technology (S&T) organizations, those
spending the most on R&D, have changed over the past ten
South Africa Saudi Arabia
The size of the circles in this Chart reflects the relative amount of annual R&D spending by the indicated country. Note the regional grouping of
countries by the colors of the balls. The horizontal axis reflects R&D spending as a percent share of the countries’ GDP (gross domestic product).
The vertical axis reflects the number of researchers (including scientists and engineers) per million population for the respective countries.