Battelle with R&D Magazine has its annual Global R&D Funding Forecast out suggesting global research and development (R&D) spending will grow by about 5.2%, to more than $1.4 trillion in 2012.

Battelle/R&DMag has it that R&D funding growth will largely be driven by the Asian economies that will see an increase in spending of nearly 9%. North American R&D will grow by 2.8% topped by European R&D that will grow by about 3.5% even with Greece, formerly one of the world’s top 40 R&D spenders, expected to have no increase.  Worldwide growth remains strong and stable in the aftermath of the global recession.

Worldwide R&D by Nation 2012. Click for more info.

Still the largest economy the U.S. growth of 2.1% is leavened against a reported and suspect 2% inflation rate.  Taken at face value the growth is a miserly 0.1% and if inflation were counted more fully and accurately the growth would disappear.  That puts the U.S. in the same league as Greece.  The U.S. breakout Battelle/R&DMag uses looks like this:

  • U.S. Private Industry will spend by far the largest amount with a projection of $279.6 billion in R&D in 2012, up 3.75 percent over 2011.
  • U.S. Federal Government spending will reach $125.6 billion in 2012, a decrease of 1.16 percent.
  • Academia in the U.S. will spend $12 billion on research in 2012, up 2.85 percent over last year.
  • Non-profits will increase spending in 2012 by 2.7 percent to $14.5 billion and other government entities in the U.S. will round out total R&D expenditures by increasing 2.72 percent to $3.8 billion.

Beyond the national competition the Funding Forecast offers an insight on expectations.  The trend is climbing for more economic results in commercial outcomes.  Several years ago, only 10 percent of U.S. industries calculated return on investment (ROI) from R&D efforts, but the newest data from the surveys, which has become a part of the forecast, now indicates that 40 percent measure that figure.

Martin Grueber, Battelle Research Leader and co-author of the report said, “ . . . industry isn’t the only sector under the ROI microscope. There also are increasing demands that public sector R&D investments show real economic and policy outcomes.”

Of the top 50 firms worldwide 18 are in the U.S., where manufacturing R&D is the dominant role.  Getting to information that has a personal impact like output, products and jobs is a challenge faced by both U.S. firms and the government.  But there is wide agreement that technology collaborations are important to growth with many manufacturers planning on increasing collaborative activity such as knowledge sharing, shorter development cycles and the availability of proprietary technologies.

The survey respondents identified the top three ways government could help support manufacturing R&D as: providing tax credits to companies with active R&D programs, supporting academic R&D in manufacturing and increasing technology transfer support from U.S. national labs to industry.  That sounds like, let us keep our money, keep academia pushing the boundaries and knock down the bureaucratic barriers to get technology out into the economy.

The forecast looks at several industries and the full forecast can be downloaded.  For us the energy and fuels area is the prime interest.

In our field of interest, energy-related research sponsored by U.S. manufacturers and technology providers will reach nearly $6.7 billion in 2012, up 23.1 percent from 2011. Global spending by energy-related companies will grow by 7.8 percent to reach $17.9 billion in 2012.  Over a third of the world R&D total will come from the consumer of a quarter of the energy market, and a big chunk will be provided by Big Oil.

Top US Energy R&D Investors 09 to Q3-11. Click image for more info.

In the meantime a “review panel” commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) identified key R&D areas where DOE program and investment can play a significant development role, including several in which the DOE historically has underinvested. Those areas include both energy supply and demand and relate to both stationary power (deploying clean electricity, modernizing the grid and increasing building/industrial efficiency) and transport power (deploying alternative hydrocarbon fuels, electrifying the vehicle fleet, and increasing vehicle efficiency).

Top Energy Technology Research Areas Worldwide 2014. Click image for more info.

The review panel calls on DOE to maintain a mix of analytic, assessment and fundamental engineering research capabilities in a broad set of energy-technology areas, all the while seeking to balance more assured activities against higher-risk transformational work.  The panel’s report acknowledges that R&D efforts must be relevant to the private sector.  But there is a tension between supporting work that industry doesn’t – the long-term nature of basic research – and the urgency of the nation’s energy challenge.

That’s the paradox facing the granting bureaucrats and the private sector.  It obviously can’t be all one or the other.  Where the balance lies will be different for anyone looking.

It comes with some relief that there is a “raise” in store for the energy field, and a good one beyond the inflation rate.  There are a few policy and budgeters out there that grasp the importance of reliable energy and lower costs to consumers to drive a healthy economy.

Printed copies of the full R&D Funding Forecast report will be available by request Jan. 3 by contacting Sandy Walker at (614) 424-7619 or at


2 Comments so far

  1. roseland67 on December 28, 2011 3:47 PM

    All of the coutries and all of the enormous companies listed and not a single $ invested in nickel/hydrogen fussion reactors?
    kind of makes me want to go hmmmmm!

  2. BFast on December 28, 2011 5:54 PM

    And how will Rossi’s e-cat technology warp this picture:

    LENR 45%
    Fuel Cells, 5%
    Hybrid technology, 5%
    Biofuels 1%
    Photovoltaics 2%
    Chemical Batteries 15%
    Natural Gas 2%
    Wind Turbines 1%
    Electric Motors 18%
    Hydrogen Power 2%
    Clean Coal 1%
    Nuclear Power (not LENR)2%
    Geothermal 1%
    Superconducting transmission 0%
    Internal combustion 1%
    Diesel 0%

    This will be about 5 years before LENR such as Rossi’s e-cat seriously enters the market. However, when the technological world realizes that LENR is for real, it will be dropping R&D int energy sources that are slated for obsolescence in a big hurry. However, their will continue to be hold-outs causing the 1% and 2% entries.

    Electric motors will be very useful in an LENR world, so their research will continue. Batteries will remain useful to power very light appliances — laptops and smaller.

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