Newsletters on Nordic R&D statistics

NIFU regularly publishes  newsletters on R&D statistics in the Nordic countries. The statistical sources are national producers of R&D statistics, the OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators and Eurostat.

More R&D in all Nordic countries

The Nordic countries invested a total of nearly 410 billion NOK in research and development (R&D) in 2017. In current prices R&D expenditure increased by 27 billion NOK, or 7 per cent, from 2016, and all countries displayed growth. Sweden continues to hold the top position among the Nordic countries, with R&D expenditure of 174 billion NOK, equalling 3.40 per cent of the country’s GDP. R&D expenditure in Norway amounts to 2.09 per cent of GDP, which is record high.

Rising trends, especially in Sweden and Norway
As in previous years Sweden accounted in 2017 for the greater part of total Nordic R&D expenditure, with 42 per cent. Denmark stood for 23 per cent of the total, Finland and Norway 17 per cent each, and Iceland merely 1 per cent. R&D expenditure grew more in Sweden and Norway in 2017 (9 per cent) than the Nordic total, and their relative shares increased. The increase from 2016 was 5 per cent in Finland and 4 per cent in both Denmark and Iceland.

Figure 1: R&D expenditure by sector in the Nordic countries, 2017. Million NOK.

HES: higher education sector, BES: business enterprise sector, GOV: government sector, PNP: private non-profit sector
Source: National R&D statistics, OECD MSTI 2018/2

As shown in the figure below, Sweden also spent more on R&D per inhabitant than the other Nordic countries, 17 255 NOK, whereas Iceland spent least.

Figure 2: R&D expenditure per capita in the Nordic countries in 2017. NOK.

Source: National R&D statistics, OECD MSTI 2018/2

R&D as share of GDP went up in Finland, Norway and Sweden
R&D expenditure as share of GDP increased in all Nordic countries from 2016 to 2017, except for Denmark and Iceland. Sweden has since 2013 held the highest R&D share of GDP among the Nordic countries, and it rose further from 3.27 in 2016 to 3.40 in 2017. R&D expenditure in Denmark has amounted to more than 3 per cent of GDP since 2015, but the share decreased from 3.10 per cent in 2016 to 3.05 per cent in 2017. After being in the lead among the Nordic countries for several years, Finland’s R&D share of GDP started to decline in 2010. The downward trend may now have turned, as the country’s R&D expenditure amounted to 2.76 per cent of GDP in 2017 (2.74 per cent in 2016). In Iceland this share decreased for two consecutive years and fell from 2.12 per cent in 2016 to 2.10 per cent in 2017. Norway continues to be the Nordic country with the lowest R&D expenditure as share of GDP. In 2016 the share passed 2 per cent (2.03) for the first time and rose to 2.09 per cent of GDP in 2017.

Figure 3: R&D as share of GDP in the Nordic countries and OECD average, 2001–2017. Per cent.

Source: National R&D statistics, OECD MSTI 2018/2

Highest growth in the business sector
The business sector performs most R&D in the Nordic countries. The sector spent a total of nearly 269 billion NOK on R&D in 2017, which was an increase of 10 per cent from 2016 in current prices. In Sweden the business sector stands for 71 per cent of the country’s R&D expenditure, compared to 65 per cent in Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Norway has the smallest business sector in relative terms, constituting 53 per cent of total R&D in the country.

More R&D in Danish and Norwegian universities
The higher education sector in the Nordic countries spent a total of more than 115 billion NOK on R&D in 2017. That is an 8 per cent increase from 2016, much stronger than the previous year’s 5 per cent increase. R&D expenditure at both Danish and Norwegian universities grew by 13 per cent (current prices). The increase from 2016 was 6 per cent in Iceland, 5 per cent in Finland and 1 per cent in Sweden. The higher education sectors in Norway, Denmark and Iceland account for more than 30 per cent of total R&D expenditure in each country (Norway in the lead with 34 per cent). That is a larger share compared to 25 per cent in both Sweden and Finland.

Growth in R&D FTEs, decline in Sweden and Iceland
The Nordic countries reported a total of more than 251 000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) dedicated to R&D in 2017. The number rose from 2016 to 2017 in Denmark, Finland and Norway. Sweden, on the other hand, displayed a decline, nevertheless after a sharp rise the previous year. Similarly, there was a drop in Iceland. In Finland, the number of FTEs has fallen over the last years in line with R&D expenditure, but increased in 2017.

Table 1: Number of full-time equivalents in R&D in the Nordic countries, 2015–2017.

2015 2016 2017
Danmark         60 243         62 780         63 340
Finland         50 367         47 429         48 999
Island          2 941          3 247 3 172
Norge         42 409         43 918         46 761
Sverige         82 151         90 692         89 268

Source: National R&D statistics, OECD MSTI 2018/2

 In this newsletter NIFU has gathered the most updated figures from the Nordic producers of R&D statistics, as well as the latest version of OECDs Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI). All the Nordic countries apply OECDs guidelines for collecting and using R&D statistics (Frascati Manual), with some national adaptations. The Nordic producers of R&D statistics, in Norway represented by Statistics Norway and NIFU, cooperate on methodology issues to improve the comparability of the figures. Please refer to the webpages of the individual institutions:

Denmark: Statistics Denmark
Sweden: Statistics Sweden
Finland: Statistics Finland
Iceland: Statistics Iceland
Norway: Statistics Norway and NIFU



Download latest news on Nordic R&D statistics

Previous newsletters: 2016, 2015, 20142013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2003

Questions may be directed to or