Research and development in the business enterprise sector

Updated: 16 February 2023

Next update: Not yet determined

Research and development (R&D) full-time equivalents (FTE)
Research and development (R&D) full-time equivalents (FTE)
23 745

About the statistics

The survey measures resources spent on research and development (R&D) in the business enterprise sector. It includes intramural and extramural R&D expenditure, R&D personnel, and R&D full-time equivalents. It also covers other aspects like funding, type of R&D and thematic and technology areas.

Research and development (R&D) comprises creative work undertaken on a systematic basis to increase the stock of knowledge, or new applications of available knowledge.

It can be difficult to distinguish R&D from innovation and other related activities. Important criteria that must be met for the activity to be considered R&D are that it contains something new, is creative, has uncertainty related to the result, is systematic and can be transferred and / or reproduced.

Definition of the main variables

R&D personnel
encompass all personnel directly involved in research and development, both inside and outside the R&D department. Also including technical and administrative personnel and persons in supporting functions that participate in R&D.

A R&D full-time equivalent (FTE)
is the R&D work performed by the R&D personnel during one year is converted into full-time equivalents.

R&D personnel and R&D FTEs can from 2021 be classified in two personnel types based on their tasks/functions:

  • Researchers: Product- or process developers, researchers and project managers
  • Technical/administrative personnel

Until 2021 they can be classified in these categories based on whether they had higher degree of education or not.

Intramural R&D expenditures
are all expenditures for R&D; performed within the statistical unit by own personnel or hired personnel. Intramural R&D expenditures encompass labour costs, cost of hired personnel, other current costs and capital expenditures on R&D.

Extramural R&D expenditures
encompass R&D services purchased from others; as research institutes, other Norwegian/foreign enterprises. Also including delivered R&D services from units in the same enterprise group.

The statistical units are classified according to:

  • Standard Industrial Classification (SIC2007). The basis for SIC 2007 is the EU standard NACE Rev. 2 and the UN standard ISIC Rev. 3.
  • Size class by number of employees: 05-09 employees, 10-19, 20-49, 50-99, 100-199, 200-499 and 500+ employees

Name: Research and development in the business enterprise sector
Topic: Technology and innovation

Not yet determined

Division for R&D, technology and business dynamics

National level, key variables by county and economic region. Main variables by county are available in Statbank; by economic region on request.

The statistics are annually. Preliminary key figures are published 10 months after the statistical year. Final figures are published 14 months after the statistical year.

The statistics are reported to OECD and Eurostat.

Micro data and information about sample units and population are stored permanently. For access to microdata for research purposes, see:

The purpose of the R&D surveys is to map the national R&D activity in the business enterprise sector, the institute sector and the higher education sector. The surveys and results are prepared according to guidelines made by the OECD in the so-called "Frascati manual".

The first R&D statistical surveys in Norway were conducted in the late 1950s. An important background was that the Norwegian research councils needed systematic information about research personnel, research recruitment needs and comparisons of investment in research between Norway and other countries. The Norwegian Research Council for General Sciences (NAVF) and the Norwegian Research Council for Technical and Natural Sciences (NTNF) participated early in the work on R&D statistics in line with the OECD's initiative. The other Nordic countries also participated early in the work. Over the years, the Nordic countries have worked closely together on these statistics. 1963 is considered the year in which international R&D statistics were established, and Norway has participated in the work from the beginning. In 1993, the five research councils were merged, and the official R&D statistics for Norway have since been prepared by Statistics Norway and the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) in agreement with the Research Council of Norway.

From the 1960s until 2022, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU and its predecessors) was responsible for conducting the survey for the institute sector and the higher education sector. Statistics Norway has conducted the survey for the business enterprise sector since 1991. As of 2022, Statistics Norway will conduct the R&D survey for all three R&D performing sectors.

Key users are ministries, the Research Council of Norway, research environments, media and business organizations. The survey is an important part of the knowledge base for research policy, and is used in evaluation, research, and analysis. OECD and Eurostat also use the results in international comparisons.

The national R&D figures are the sum of the figures for three sectors:

  • The higher education sector
  • The institute sector
  • Business enterprise sector

Statistics Norway reports R&D statistics for Norway to the OECD and Eurostat, but with a somewhat different sector division internationally than the Norwegian one. The OECD's sector division consists of:

  • Higher education sector
  • Government sector
  • Business enterprise sector
  • Private non-profit sector (PNP)

The higher education sector corresponds to the Norwegian higher education sector.

The government sector comprises the Norwegian institute sector apart from private research institutes which mainly serve the business enterprise sector. The business-oriented research institutes include industry specific research institutes and contract institutes, which in the international reporting belong to the Business enterprise sector.

In addition to private research institutes that mainly serve the business enterprise sector, the Business enterprise sector includes the business enterprises, i.e. companies with at least 10 employees.

The PNP sector (private non-profit) performs little R&D in Norway and is therefore merged with the Government sector in the international R&D statistics. The same applies to the PNP sector in many other countries.

Innovation survey

The R&D survey for the business enterprise sector was formerly carried out together with the innovation survey and data collected together in the same questionnaire. From 2013 onwards the R&D survey and the innovation survey are carried out separately. As previously the results from these surveys are published separately. R&D is one of the innovation activities, but the innovation survey covers a wider range of activities than R&D only.

Statistics Act. Act of 21 June 2019 no. 32 on official statistics and Statistics Norway, § 10 on the duty to provide information.

Regulation (EU) 2019/2152 of the European Parliament and of the Council on European business enterprise statistics.

The Business Enterprise sector. NACE-sectors 03, 05-33, 35-39, 41-43, 46, 49-53, 58-66, 70-72, 74.9, 82.9 (SN2007). Enterprises with at least 10 employees.

Surveys using the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises as a frame.

The survey is a census of all units with at least 50 employees. In addition are all units with10-49 employees and with considerable reported R&D activity in the previous survey included. Among the other units with 10 - 49 employees a random sample is drawn within each strata (NACE 2-digit and size class). The fraction rate is normally 30 percent, but in some strata 15 and 10 percent are used.

The sample was about 5-6000 units.

The sample was extended in the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021 survey to also include enterprises with 5-9 employees. The total sample of these years is therefore larger than in the years in between. For comparability the statistics were presented both with and without this extension of the survey. The enterprises with 5-9 employees are not included in comparisons over time and international comparisons.

From 2008 onwards, enterprises with less than 20 employees in the industries Construction and Transportation and storage are not included. These groups have a large number of enterprises and a very low share of the total R&D activity in the business enterprise sector.

The statistical unit is enterprise, and with breakdown of a number of variables to establishments (local kind-of-activity unit). Until 1999 the statistical unit was the branch unit ( kind-of-activity unit) .

An enterprise is defined as the smallest combination of legal units that is an organizational unit producing goods or services. An enterprise may be a sole legal unit. An enterprise carries out one or more activities at one or more locations and may consist of one or more branch units or establishments. A establishment is geographically located in one particular place and its main activity delimited to one NACE-class. A branch unit encompasses all establishment units within the same NACE-class, but is not necessarily located to only one region. The use of branch unit/establishments gives the most detailed breakdown of the statistics by NACE. When enterprise is used as statistical unit the R&D activity is classified by NACE according to the enterprise’s main activity.

The data on R&D are collected by electronic questionnaire, more information at The forms are sent out 4-5 months after the end of the reference year.

Response burden
The time used to fill in the form is estimated to 30 minutes on average. This yields a total response burden of 2150 hours for the enterprises. However, the content of the questionnaire may vary from one year to another.


All forms undergo on-receipt controls (is the questionnaire filled in, is there any obvious inconsistencies etc). There are integrated a number of controls in the electronic questionaire. After the data are made available electronically, more detailed controls take part, including check with the data from the previous survey, information from the financial account etc.


For units with less than 50 employees the survey is based on a sample of units. Total figures for this part of the survey population are estimated based on the sample units. The estimations are done within each stratum, NACE 2-digit level and size-class.

Fixed prices

The respondents report R&D expenditure in current prices. Statistics Norway also publishes the figures for R&D expenditure in current prices. For total R&D expenditure, we also calculate figures in fixed prices. The base year is 2015. The deflator is based on the price index of production in NACE 72 Research and development in the national accounts. See table 09170 in the statistics bank, the variable "Output at basic value. Annual change in prices (per cent)". This is a weighted cost index - an average index for the different types of expenditure. The same deflator is used for all the R&D performing sectors.

Not relevant

Results are published at an aggregated level. Individual enterprises can not be identified.

The first surveys of R&D started back in 1963, from 1970 onwards in a systematic way. The statistics have been worked out on bi-annual basis since 1977, but is undertaken annually from 2001 onwards. The first surveys covered only manufacturing industry, but the service industries have gradually been included. Statistics Norway is responsible for the survey for the Business enterprise sector from 1991 onwards. In 1995 the survey was considerably extended.

From 1991 the statistical unit was the kind-of-activity unit. For 2001 this was changed to enterprise as the main statistical unit, but with a breakdown of the main variables to local kind-of-activity unit.

From 2008 a new version of the industry classification (SN2007) was implemented making it more difficult to compare with former vintages. Results from 2007 are published both by the old and the new classification, while former vintages only are published by the old classification (SN2002).

Every second year, enterprises with 5-9 employees are included in the survey.For comparability the statistics were presented both with and without this extension of the survey. The enterprises with 5-9 employees are not included in comparisons over time and international comparisons.

The concept of R&D may be difficult to distinguish from related activities.

The response rate for the survey is high, around 99 per cent, and the results should for that reason not be biased by non-respondents. In case of non-response from large R&D performers there are good routines to estimate missing data. Preliminary results have a larger degree of uncertainty than final results.

Due to controls in the electronic questionnaire, the item non-response is almost non-existent. Item non-response is in case adjusted during the revision process.

The population of enterprises is based upon the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises. The sample is stratified by NACE 2-digit and number of employees. Incomplete updating of these variables and entries and exits of enterprises may cause errors in the survey.

Not relevant