High R&D activity in business enterprises


Preliminary figures show that the business enterprise sector performed research and development (R&D) for about NOK 32.6 billion in 2017. This is 10 per cent higher compared to 2016. Adjusted for price change, the increase was 8.9 per cent.

Business enterprises with at least 10 employees performed about 21 300 R&D man-years (FTEs) in 2017, according to new figures from the statistics Research and development in the business enterprise sector. This is 9 per cent more than in 2016.

Business enterprises’ overall R&D expenditure has increased continuously since 2011, including in 2017 when growth reached a solid 10 per cent. The R&D activity level was 44 per cent higher than in 2010, which was the bottom year after the financial crisis. After remaining relatively stable over time, business R&D expenses as a share of GDP have also increased in recent years, from 0.71 per cent in 2010 to 0.99 per cent in 2017.

Figure 1. Intramural R&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 2017
Manufacturing industries 5677 5460 5405 7179 7275 6545 6510 6425 6711 6629 6283 5382 5722 5708 5751 6099 6579 6349 6644
Service industries 3016 4127 4303 5009 5075 5100 5657 6070 6284 7066 6761 7297 7699 7706 7839 8575 9472 10216 11452
Other industries, incl. Extraction of petroleum and gas 940 946 1259 1545 1610 1332 1342 1357 1623 1568 1459 1534 1349 1601 1904 1946 2060 2226 2391

Enterprises with 5-9 employees in 2017

In addition to the total R&D expenditures of NOK 32.6 billion, enterprises with 5-9 employees spent around NOK 2.8 billion in R&D in 2017. About 2 000 R&D FTEs were carried out in these enterprises. Enterprises with 5-9 employees were last covered in the survey for 2015. To ensure comparability over time, the other figures in this article apply to enterprises with at least 10 employees.

Service industries grew the most

Growth in business enterprises’ R&D activity was mainly driven by service industries, but there was also an increase in the manufacturing industry and in other industries (including crude oil and natural gas extraction). Service industries’ R&D expenditure increased by NOK 2.2 billion in 2017, a 14 per cent growth compared to 2016. In the manufacturing industry, the 6 per cent increase accounted for NOK 600 million.

Small enterprises contributed most to business R&D growth

The proportion of enterprises performing R&D was 26 per cent in 2017, unchanged from the previous year. This proportion varies widely among the size groupings. Dividing enterprises into two groups, one with at least 100 and one with 10-99 employees, showed that 48 per cent of enterprises with at least 100 employees reported that they either performed R&D themselves or bought R&D services from others. By comparison, this applied to only 23 per cent of enterprises with between 10 and 99 employees.

In spite of a lower proportion of R&D, enterprises with 10-99 employees showed the largest growth. Business R&D expenses increased by NOK 3.1 billion as a whole, and enterprises with 10-99 employees accounted for almost NOK 2.6 billion of this increase. This is a 22 per cent growth, while enterprises with at least 100 employees only had a growth of 3 per cent compared to 2016.

More purchases of R&D services

In addition to performing its own R&D, many companies purchase R&D services from other companies or institutions. The total expenditure of purchased R&D amounted to NOK 7.4 billion in 2017, a growth of 5 per cent compared to 2016.

In addition, enterprises with 5-9 employees purchased R&D services for almost NOK 0.5 billion in 2017.

Norway's total R&D effort

Information on the total R&D effort for Norway, including universities, colleges and research institutes, is available at https://www.nifu.no/en/statistics-indicators/nokkeltall/.

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 5-49 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 a lack of complete reports from some large R&D enterprises. Figures have been estimated. Final figures for 2017 will be published in February 2019.