Stability Returns to Global R&D Funding

Joanna Schroeder

According to an analysis performed by Battelle Memorial Institute and R&D Magazine, the global research and development (R&D) outlook for 2011 will be more stable and positive and is emerging from one of the worst recession eras in recent times. With this in mind, R&D managers are prepared to see moderate, but sustainable growth and more global competition for resources and market share.

In more tangible terms, R&D spending is expected to increase by 3.6 percent in 2011 to $1.2 trillion; however, in the U.S. this number is only expected to climb by 2.4 percent over the 2010 numbers reaching just over $405 billion in 2011. Regardless of a number that appears to be minor, the U.S. is positioned to be the dominate region for research and investment.

When you hone in on energy R&D, the report notes that in this category, overall R&D budgets are low compared to the percent of R&D versus revenues of companies in other categories. The companies spending the most in R&D are: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, USEC, First Solar, Cree, McDermott International, A123, SunPower, and FuelCell Energy.

The authors write, “Unlike defense, outcomes and benefits from federal energy research are realized largely in the private sector. Moreover, DOE’s research investment fills a critical gap in private sector innovation capacity. The relatively low level of R&D spending in the regulated, capital-intensive energy sector is unlikely to achieve the affordable, abundant, sustainable, secure energy supply that will be necessary for the U.S. to maintain global economic leadership in this century.”

“At the same time, public-private collaboration and commercialization are necessary to deploy energy innovation at scale, since the government controls little energy production or distribution capacity (except fossil reserves on federal lands).”

The conclusion in this sector by the report authors is that the private sector lacks the full scope of resources to accomplish the necessary research that is required to meet the demand for sustainable and affordable energy. They also note that the government lacks the means to deploy energy innovation at scale to meet policy goals and stresses that collaboration and commercialization are essential to see success.

You can download a copy of the 2011 Global Funding R&D Forecast here.

biofuels, Electricity, Energy, Geothermal, Smart Grid, Solar, Wind