Solid growth in R&D activity


The business enterprise sector spent NOK 32 billion on own R&D in 2017, which is a growth of 8 per cent from 2016. The enterprises also bought external R&D services to the tune of NOK 7.5 billion, an increase of 7 per cent. A total of 21 200 R&D man-years (FTEs) were performed in 2017.

Adjusted for price change, the R&D expenditure in business enterprises increased by 7 per cent, according to new figures from the statistics Research and development in the business enterprise sector.

R&D expenditures in the business enterprise sector amounted to 0.97 per cent of GDP in 2017, compared with 0.95 per cent the year before.

The final figures are somewhat lower than the preliminary figures published in October 2018.

More R&D to the fish farming industry

Figures for 2017 show a clear increase in R&D efforts in aquaculture. Looking back at 2007 shows that R&D expenditure in the fishing and aquaculture industry, as a whole, has tripled. Until 2013, R&D efforts were relatively stable, and this has been followed by strong growth in recent years.

In comparison, crude oil and gas extraction, another large industry, has grown by 32 per cent since 2007. This industry peaked in 2013 and has subsequently experienced some decline in R&D. The level of spending is nevertheless still high and amounted to NOK 1.7 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, the fishing and aquaculture industry spent NOK 1.1 billion in R&D.

Figure 1. Industries with above 1 billion intramural R&D expenditures in 2017

2016 2017
Refined petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products 958 1057
Fishing and aquaculture 770 1066
Telecommunications 1275 1110
Food products and beverages 1267 1261
Fabricated metal prod. 1361 1268
Machinery and equipment 1327 1340
Financial and insurance activities 1118 1587
Extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas and support act. petroleum extraction 1788 1673
Electronic and optical products 1894 1911
Software publishing 2141 2471
Architecture, engineering act. 2903 3004
Computer programming, consultancy 4984 5733

More purchases of R&D services

Business enterprises bought R&D services externally to the tune of NOK 7.5 billion in 2007, which is an increase of 7 per cent compared with 2016. There was a growth in purchases from both Norway and abroad. However, purchases from Norwegian research institutes, universities and colleges dropped by 9 per cent and amounted to NOK 1.4 billion in 2017.

Enterprises with 5-9 employees in 2017

The R&D costs of NOK 32 billion comprise of the costs of enterprises with at least 10 employees. In addition to the total R&D costs of NOK 32 billion, enterprises with 5-9 employees carried out R&D worth around NOK 2.8 billion in 2017. These enterprises purchased R&D services from other companies to the tune of NOK 380 million.

Enterprises with 5-9 employees are included in the survey every other year and were last covered by the survey for 2015. In order to ensure comparability over time, the other figures in this report apply to enterprises with at least 10 employees. Figures for enterprises with 5-9 employees are published in Statbank.

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.