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Global Survey Reveals Critical Issues Facing Scientific Research Community

Posted on Jan 26, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH., 26 January, 2011—A diverse group of private sector and government researchers in various R&D activities worldwide cite constricted budgets as the most critical challenge facing the global scientific community, with more U.S. than non-U.S. researchers believing they would be impacted.

In an annual Global R&D Funding Forecast, Battelle and R&D Magazine polled 378 respondents, ranging from CEOs to laboratory analysts, from 38 different countries. The poll, which is the first of its kind, is part of an annual forecast that also revealed China is now second only to the United States in R&D funding and is benefitting greatly from an unprecedented investment in education. 

The survey revealed the following noteworthy trends:

Critical Challenges

  • Limited budgets top the list, with 37 percent of researchers identifying it as the most critical challenge in 2011. It was followed by development time limitations (34 percent) and competition (33 percent.)
  • Researchers in the U.S. are more concerned about budget pressures than the non-U.S. researchers, with 41 percent of U.S. respondents citing in it as a critical challenge versus 33 percent of the non-U.S. respondents.

Key Global Issues Impacting the Direction of Future R&D

While there was some agreement on certain issues in this area, there were marked differences between  U.S and non-U.S. researchers.

Identified in the top five among both respondent groups were:

  • Healthcare for the aging
  • Demand for renewable/sustainable energy
  • Global population growth

U.S. researchers, perhaps reflecting both a market orientation and a significant bio-medical representation in the respondent set, elevated both “growth in consumerism in emerging markets” and “threat of global pandemics” to their top five concerns.

Non-U.S. respondents, perhaps reflecting a larger environmental industry presence among them, included “climate change/global warming” and “environmental clean-up and remediation” in their top five.

Leading Countries in R&D by Technology Area

The global research community identified its top three leading countries in nine technology areas. The U.S. was cited as first in eight of the nine categories, with Japan cited as the leader in the “automotive and other motor vehicle” category. Countries ranking second or third in the categories include a mix of China, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Russia and India. Other categories examined include:

  • Agriculture and food production
  • Healthcare, medical, life science and biotech
  • Composite, nanotech and other advanced materials
  • Energy generation and efficiency
  • Military defense and security
  • Instruments, electronics and computer hardware
  • Software and information management
  • Aerospace, rail and other non-auto transport

A key finding of the closely watched Global Funding Forecast finds that Asia’s stake in R&D spending continues to increase, a shift begun more than five years ago. The U.S., however, still dominates absolute spending at a level well above its share of global Gross Domestic Product.

During the recession, the Asian R&D communities generally, and China specifically, increased R&D investment and stature. China entered the recession with a decade of strong economic growth. During that time, it increased R&D spending roughly 10 percent each year—a pace it maintained during the 2008-2009 recession. This sustained commitment set China apart from many other nations.

About Battelle

As the world’s largest independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses:  Laboratory Management; National Security; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Material Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.2 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including eight national laboratories for which Battelle has a significant management role on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the United Kingdom.

Battelle also is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Media Contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or, or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or


Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208

T.R. Massey

Senior Media Specialist
Office: 1.614.424.5544