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Policies to foster R&D and innovation in OECD countries . Mario Cervantes Senior Economist OECD Science & Technology Policy Division Seminar on How R&D Tax Incentives Can Boost the Competitiveness of European High Tech Industry 28 February 2007 Näringslivets Hus, Stockholm.

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policies to foster r d and innovation in oecd countries

Policies to foster R&D and innovation in OECD countries 

Mario Cervantes

Senior Economist

OECD Science & Technology Policy Division

Seminar on How R&D Tax Incentives Can Boost the Competitiveness of European High Tech Industry

28 February 2007

Näringslivets Hus, Stockholm


OECD work on science and innovation

  • OECD work on science and innovation is carried out in the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy, made up of delegates from member countries.
  • The priorities are established by countries in a 2-yearly work programme.
  • The output of the work includes:
    • Analytical reports, e.g. on Public-Private Partnerships or Science-Industry Links.
    • Policy reports, e.g. country reviews of innovation policy.
    • Policy guidelines, e.g. on licensing of genetic inventions.
    • Statistics, indicators and benchmarking reports, e.g. OECD’s bi-annual Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard.
  • In practice, a platform for exchange, analysis and discussion on good policy practices.
today s outline
Today’s Outline
  • I. The Big Picture: general trends in R&D and innovation
  • II. Trends in R&D and innovation policies in OECD countries
  • III. The role of tax incentives to promote R&D and innovation
  • IV. Conclusions
trends in r d spending across oecd
Trends in R&D spending across OECD

Gross domestic expenditure on R&D by area, 1991-2004 Billions of USD PPP

Trends in R&D intensity by area, 1991-2004

Source: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2006

recent trends growing r d intensity in several oecd countries r d as of gdp
Recent trends – Growing R&D intensity in several OECD countries (R&D as % of GDP)

Gross expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP, 1995, 2000 and 2004

Source: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2006


But R&D spending still falls short of national targets in most OECD countries

(current R&D spending and official targets, as % of GDP, in %)

patterns of business r d performance varied
Patterns of business R&D performance varied

Business R&D spending in major OECD regions, 1991-2004 and as a % of GDP

Source: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2006

raising r d intensity primarily involves greater investment in business r d
Raising R&D intensity primarily involves greater investment in business R&D

BERD intensity by country, 1995, 2000 and 2004As a % of GDP

Source: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2006, forthcoming


But business R&D is influenced by structural factors, such as firm size …

Source: OECD R&D Database


.. industry composition …

(R&D in the business sector adjusted for variations in industry structure)

Source: OECD, Going for Growth, based on ANBERD Database

.. and the contribution of foreign affiliates(R&D expenditure of foreign affiliates as % of total business R&D)

R&D expenditure of foreign affiliates, 1995, 2000 and 2003As a % of R&D expenditures of enterprises

Source: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2006


What policies to foster business innovation?

  • Providing good framework conditions for business:
    • Good infrastructure, highly skilled workforce, tax climate, etc.
    • Improving quality of education and teaching to attract and retain talent
    • Intellectual property rights – to provide incentives for investment
  • Through support measures:
    • R&D tax credits
    • Direct support (grants, loans, etc.)
    • Public-private partnerships
    • Initiatives at the local and regional level.
  • OECD countries use a mix of these instruments

Framework conditions are important determinants of business R&D …

  • OECD analysis shows that:
    • Reducing anti-competitive product market regulations stimulates business R&D, as it strengthens the incentives to innovate.
    • A low level of restrictions on foreign direct investment can improve cross-border knowledge transfers.
    • Stable macroeconomic conditions and low real interest rates help to encourage the growth of innovation activity.
    • The availability of internal and external finance is an important determinant of innovation expenditures.
    • Improved corporate profitability and higher stock market capitalisation both have a positive effect on innovation expenditures.

… as are innovation policies

  • OECD analysis shows that:
    • Policies that help to make foreign knowledge more accessible can be very effective in fostering business R&D.
    • Expanding public research can support business sector research, but expanding both will require efforts to raise the supply of human resources.
    • Fiscal incentives can be effective, especially when firms face financial constraints. Tax relief for private R&D is found to provide a stronger stimulus to business R&D than direct government subsidies.
    • The case for further strengthening of intellectual property rights for patent holders in OECD countries appears weak. Excessively strong intellectual property rights can be counterproductive as it may reduce product market competition.

Trends in OECD countries in the use of support measures for business R&D and Innovation

  • Some streamlining of support programmes:
    • Efforts to reduce the range of programmes
    • Growing focus on competitive-based and merit based competitive funding
    • Growing focus on innovation instead of R&D, greater attention for services
    • Growing focus on supporting networks and clusters, instead of individual firms
    • Improving IPR management for business innovation
  • R&D tax credits in search of more efficiency:
    • New R&D tax credits for labour charges in some countries (Belgium, Spain, Netherlands)
  • Leverage procurement policies, including via SMEs to foster innovation and develop lead markets, in particular in Europe
  • Overall: in search of “smarter ways” to support innovation


    • Early stage funding (seed capital schemes) ; matching capital schemes versus loan capital
    • Focus on growth companies
    • Assist academic researchers in firm creation
    • Shift away from helping under-developed regions to supporting new growth (e.g. Netherlands)
    • Improved planning and selection of clusters focusing on maximising existing synergies (e.g France)
    • Central role of universities in cluster development
    • High level and consistent political support from regional governments


    • Attracting more attention and more funding
    • Focus on building longer-term interactions, not one-off efforts
    • Industry-oriented networks (firm to firm)
    • Public/Private partnerships: competence centres linking governments , PROs and firms, including SMEs


    • Generic framework policies for attracting FDI related R&D
    • Investment agencies
    • Linking national firms to multinational supply chains ; role of public/private partnerships
    • Globalisation of public research institutions
    • Economic efficiency remains important goal
    • Balancing ex-ante and ex-post evaluations
    • Holistic approach emerging: include social and environmental effects
types of tax incentives in oecd countries
Types of Tax Incentives in OECD countries
  • 1) Tax Credits
  • 2) R&D Allowances
  • 3) Depreciation allowances – accelerated depreciation
  • 4) Reduction in social security (withholding tax) for employees in R&D related activities
  • 5) Tax incentives on collaborative R&D activities
  • However, other tax incentives exist to correct market failures in financing for innovation
    • Capital gains exemptions on exit from early stage investments
    • VAT exemptions for management of funds
    • Special Company tax rates for SMEs
    • Tax incentives for private individual investments in equity and venture capital
    • Tax exemptions on royalties from patents
recent changes to r d tax incentive schemes in some oecd countries
Recent changes to R&D tax incentive schemes in some OECD countries
  • Combine requirments on level of R&D spending as well as incremental R&D spending (e.g France)
  • Allow subcontractors to qualify for R&D tax credit (e.g. Austria)
  • Extend R&D tax credits to labour charges on highly qualified workers, including Phds (e.g. Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain).
  • Broaden coverage to SMEs (e.g. Canada allows individual investors not acting as a group to each claim full tax credit)
  • Improve adminstration of tax credits (e.g. UK proposal to create specialised R&D unit in the HM Revenue and Customs, improve use by SMEs)
In short a gradual shift in role of fiscal incentives to support not just R&D but “innovation” and investments in other intellectual assets
  • A search for efficiency of tax system and fiscal incentives for R&D tax credits
iv conclusions
IV. Conclusions
  • Overall prospects for science, technology and industry are positive – but contingent on global economic environment.
  • Recent divergence of regional patterns of R&D and innovation could converge if economic environment remains stable.
  • Patterns of innovation are changing in significant ways: rise of university research, growth of services, globalisation, open innovation.
iv conclusions con t
IV. Conclusions (con´t)
  • Continued attention on improving efficiency of innovation systems
  • Sustaining institutional reforms to improve policy coherence
  • Promoting innovation in services
  • Promoting R&D and innovation in SMEs increases in importance
  • Fiscal incentives for R&D play critical role
  • Evaluation also important, but policy makers are taking a more holistic approach recognizing social not just economic impacts
challenges for policies
Challenges for policies
  • Anticipating and responding to future social and innovation needs: policy makers lack mechanisms for identifying future needs and linking them to decision and innovation strategies
  • Human resources issues remain a concern across OECD but concerns differ (e.g. competence/Skill gaps versus shortages and declining numbers of S&T grads)
  • Adjusting innovation support measures to emergence of Open Innovation business models
  • Responding to globalisation remains a challenge
thank you
Thank you!
  • Mario Cervantes
  • Email:
  • mario.cervantes@oecd.org
  • www.oecd.org/sti/innovation
  • www.oecd.org/sti/scoreboard