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Research and Development in international enterprises 2021

Every two years, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis presents a statistics report on research and development (R&D) in international groups with significant investments in R&D. This report is based on a questionnaire study of R&D investments in Sweden and abroad carried out by major Swedish-owned enterprise groups, and on processed statistics from Statistics Sweden’s survey “R&D in the business enterprise sector”.


R&D in Sweden

In Sweden, the majority of all R&D activities are conducted in the business enterprise sector. Although enterprises mainly financed their R&D activities with internal funds, known as self-financing, self-financing of R&D by enterprises decreased in 2021 compared to 2019. Their R&D investments were financed to a greater extent with funds from other enterprises, both in Sweden and abroad.

Business expenditure on intramural R&D in Sweden increased most among Swedish-owned enterprises, compared to foreign-owned enterprises, between 2019 and 2021. Over the last decade, foreign-owned enterprises have significantly increased their R&D investments in Sweden, a sign that foreign-owned enterprises play an increasingly important role in the R&D activities of the private sector in Sweden.

Among foreign-owned enterprises, Chinese-owned enterprises continued to have the largest R&D investments in Sweden. However, Chinese-owned enterprises have reduced their R&D spending by almost a quarter since 2017. After China, the countries whose enterprises spent most on R&D in Sweden included the UK, Germany, the US, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

R&D in major Swedish-owned international groups

In 2021, large Swedish international groups invested almost SEK 98 billion on intramural R&D, which was a slight increase of 2.3 per cent compared to 2019. The groups increased R&D expenditure in Sweden while reducing their expenditure abroad.

The total time worked by staff in the groups' R&D activities amounted to more than 68,300 full-time equivalents in 2021. The R&D investments of large Swedish groups, in terms of personnel, have increasingly been located abroad in recent years. In contrast, investments in Sweden have largely remained static over the years. In 2021, R&D personnel abroad accounted for around one third of the groups’ total R&D personnel.

The groups' main reasons for locating R&D activities in Sweden were existing production units and access to qualified R&D labour. In low- and middle-income countries, the possibility of cost savings was considered a more significant factor than in Sweden and other high-income countries.

Research and Development in international enterprises 2021

Serial number: 2023:06

Reference number: 2023/59

Download the report in swedish Pdf, 1.1 MB, opens in new window.


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