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OECD Publishes Science, Technology And Industry Scoreboard

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

30 October 2007

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published its Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007, it emerged last week.

According to the report, two thirds of OECD's 30 member states offered business tax subsidies last year, up from 12 in 1995. Governments were also seen to be increasing those tax breaks over time.

The OECD explained:

"OECD countries’ policy mix for fostering innovation is changing. In 2005, direct government funds financed an average of 7% of business R&D, down from 11% in 1995, with a shift away from public procurement (direct subsidies) and towards tax relief."

"In 2006, 20 OECD countries offered tax relief for business R&D, up from 12 in 1995 (18 in 2004), and most have tended to make it more generous over the years. In this way, governments create an incentive to undertake R&D but leave the choice of types of projects to market forces. Government revenue forgone as a result of R&D tax credits can be substantial, e.g. USD 5 billion in the United States, about USD 1 billion in France and the United Kingdom, and some USD 300-400 million in the Netherlands, Mexico, Australia, Belgium and Spain (2005 figures)."

The report also identified a sharp rise in international inventions, with cross-border co-operation on inventions nearly doubling as a share of total inventions between 1991-1993 and 2001-2003.

It found that foreign ownership of domestic patents increased 50% between the early 1990s and the early 2000s.

On publishing the report, the OECD observed that:

"Throughout the world, innovation and globalisation are the two major sources of economic performance. They directly affect productivity, job creation and citizens' well-being, and they help make it possible to address global challenges such as health and the environment. As their role has taken on greater prominence, their characteristics have evolved and policies have had to adapt."

The 2007 Scoreboard additionally revealed that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are taking further steps in many areas of the knowledge economy, most notably in terms of investment in research (in China and India), patenting, and trade in high-technology industries.

The Organisation further stated that:

"In order to stimulate technology transfer from universities to businesses, many OECD governments have encouraged universities to patent their inventions. OECD-wide, between 1996-98 and 2002-04, the share of patents filed by universities has been stable."

"While decreasing slightly, to about 7%, in the countries that pioneered such policies (Australia, Canada and the United States), the share has increased markedly in Japan and the European Union, notably in France and in Germany, although levels remain modest (1.5% in Japan, 3% in the EU, but more than 5% in France). The four OECD countries with the highest rate of university patenting are Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom and Belgium."

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