Swedish-owned company groups have increased their R&D in Sweden significantly over the past decade at the same time as it has expanded even more overseas. Swedish groups’ foreign direct investment in R&D has seen a substantial boost, primarily in Asia and South America. Expansion in these areas is similar to the expansion of R&D that took place in the west during the 1990s when globalisation of R&D took off and Swedish companies established R&D in other countries, principally in western Europe and the USA. But even though the rate of increase has been high in Asia, China for example constitutes 3% of the major Swedish groups’ total R&D expenditure, to be compared to the USA’s 8 per cent.
The R&D expenditure of foreign-owned companies in Sweden fell from roughly 33 per cent to 30 per cent between 2007 and 2009, (2009 prices). This is the second survey in a row to show falling expenditure. The number of annual full time equivalents in R&D in foreign-owned companies in Sweden, however, has increased slightly, from a share of 33 per cent in 2007 to 34 per cent in 2009. The large increase in R&D at foreign-owned companies in Sweden took place at the end of the 1990s, primarily as a result of some major changes in ownership in Swedish trade and industry.
As stated above, foreign-owned companies account for 30 per cent of trade and industry’s R&D expenditure in Sweden and companies from Great Britain, the USA and Switzerland account for the largest shares among foreign-owned companies.
Summary of Research and Development in enterprises in 2009