In 2016, expenditure by companies, in higher education and at other institutions towards their own R&D grew by more than 4 percent. Especially corporate R&D spending was up, namely by 462 million euros relative to 2015, amounting to 8.1 billion euros. R&D expenditure at higher education and other institutions was up as well, albeit more modestly by 2 percent. Not only R&D expenditure but also the number of labour years went up namely by 3 percent to more than 133 thousand.
R&D intensity stable in the Netherlands
R&D expenditure is generally presented in relation to gross domestic product (GDP). In 2016, R&D intensity stood at 2.03 percent, roughly equal to 2015 (2.02 percent) and 2014 (2 percent), but higher than in previous years (1.9 percent). The Dutch government seeks to achieve an R&D intensity of 2.5 percent.
At around 2 percent, the Dutch score lies around the European average. Similar amounts are spent by countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Austria, but these have a higher R&D intensity as set against GDP. The United Kingdom and Italy spend more on R&D spending, but their R&D intensity is lower than in the Netherlands.
More corporate R&D carried out abroad
Companies can break down their production processes into smaller projects which may be set up elsewhere in the world. This can be done with the knowledge-intensive parts of the process or even with entire R&D divisions. Dutch R&D expenditure abroad increased by nearly one-third between 2014 and 2016, from nearly 1.5 billion euros in 2014 to 2.2 billion euros in 2016. The majority of outsourced R&D abroad is on account of the private sector.
At the same time, the Netherlands is generating more and more R&D revenues from abroad. Revenues increased from 1.7 billion euros in 2014 to 2.2 billion euros in 2016, representing around one-sixth of total R&D expenditure in the Netherlands. Therefore, last year’s revenues from abroad were approximately equal to the Netherlands’ own spending abroad. There is however a clear difference between R&D expenditure abroad by the private sector on the one hand and by institutions and higher education on the other; net expenditure by the private sector is significantly higher abroad than spending by institutions and in higher education. The latter are net recipients of R&D revenues coming from abroad.
Noord-Brabant leads in private R&D expenditure
Around 30 percent of private R&D expenditure is on account of enterprises in Noord-Brabant. Together with Zuid-Holland, this province represents nearly half of total private R&D expenditure in the Netherlands. Noord-Holland province follows in third place.
The bulk of R&D activity can be found in the south-eastern part of Noord-Brabant around Eindhoven. The private sector in this region spent more than 1.5 billion euros on its own R&D, equivalent to 13 thousand labour years. In Noord-Holland province, the Greater Amsterdam region is a dominant player with around half of all corporate R&D activities in the province undertaken there. Furthermore, Greater Rijnmond and the agglomeration of The Hague together account for nearly half of R&D activities by enterprises in Zuid-Holland. In the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe and Zeeland, R&D spending is lowest as against gross regional product.