Further growth in business sector R&D


The business enterprise sector performed research and development (R&D) totalling about NOK 29.5 billion in 2016. This is 6.2 per cent higher compared to 2015. Measured in fixed prices, the increase was 3.8 per cent.

After two consecutive years of record growth in business enterprise R&D activity, the preliminary figures for 2016 show a somewhat more moderate increase in 2016. The survey included enterprises with at least 10 employees. Manufacturing industries show a marginal increase of less than 1 per cent, while service industries increased by 9.6 per cent. It may be worth noting that total GDP for Norway shows zero growth from 2015 measured in current prices; for mainland Norway, nominal growth was 3.7 per cent. This means that R&D as a share of GDP is still increasing.

Changes in R&D expenditure compared to 2015 vary by size group, in particular when considering the largest enterprise size groups. However, these variances are to a large degree attributable to changes in the number of employees amongst large R&D performers.

Figure 1. Intramural R and D expenditures in constant prices. Base year=2005

1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Other industries, incl. Extraction of petroleum and gas 940 946 1259 1545 1610 1332 1342 1357 1622 1577 1457 1538 1351 1593 1904 1937 2137 2179
Service industries 3016 4127 4303 5009 5075 5100 5657 6070 6302 7052 6768 7302 7712 7702 7839 8489 9642 10145
Manufacturing industries 5677 5460 5405 7179 7275 6545 6510 6425 6694 6634 6279 5372 5707 5720 5751 6109 6694 6486

Enterprises covered by the survey performed 19 764 R&D full time equivalents (FTEs), which is 3,5 per cent more than in 2015. Service industries performed 4,4 per cent more R&D FTEs in 2016 and accounted for 55 per cent of all R&D FTEs in the business enterprise sector.

Figure 2

Performed R&D man-years in the enterprise size classes, share of total R&D man-years in the industry. 2016

One in four enterprises engage in R&D activities

The proportion of enterprises that perform R&D has remained stable at around 20 per cent for several years, but jumped to 25 per cent in 2015. The results for 2016 show a similar level, with 26 per cent. The growth in the number of R&D-performing enterprises was strongest among small enterprises with less than 50 employees.

Increased use of hired R&D personnel

Business R&D activity is mainly carried out by the company's own employees. Compensation for in-house R&D personnel amounted to more than NOK 18 billion in 2016, equivalent to 62 per cent of total R&D expenditures. However, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to hire labour from external sources to carry out R&D projects. Costs of hired R&D personnel amounted to NOK 3.1 billion in 2016; a 12 per cent increase. In 2009, the cost of hired personnel amounted to 6 per cent of total R&D costs, and in 2016 reached 11 per cent.

Service industries account for most of the business enterprise expenditure for hired R&D personnel, with a total of NOK 2.5 billion in 2016. These industries also contributed to the total growth in 2016. Both small and large enterprises seem to be joining this trend.

Purchased R&D services

In addition to performing their own research and development, many enterprises acquired R&D services from other actors. The total expenditures for purchased R&D amounted to NOK 7.0 billion in 2016.

Norway's total R&D work

Information on total R&D work in Norway, including universities, colleges and research institutes, is available at www.nifu.no/statistik/foustatistik.

Uncertainty of the results

[R&D statistics are based on information collected from the enterprises. All enterprises with 50 employees or more are included. In addition, a sample of enterprises with 10-49 employees is drawn and total figures for this group are calculated based on this sample. As a result, there is greater uncertainty surrounding the results for the small enterprises.

Preliminary figures

In the preliminary results published there is uncertainty due to lack of complete reports from some large R&D enterprises. Figures have been estimated. Final figures for 2016 will be published in February 2018.