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European Universities' Research Strengths Highlighted

European Universities' Research Strengths Highlighted main image

European universities have received a qualified vote of confidence from businesses pursuing research and development in the EU, Martin Ince reports.

The European Commission’s latest survey of business research shows that they regard collaboration with universities as a principal reason to do research in the EU.

They also say that the availability of qualified personnel is the top reason, out of 15, for locating their labs in Europe.

The survey shows that the 205 firms in the EU plan to increase their research and development spending by 5% per year between 2010 and 2013, well ahead of the 2% that they reported a year earlier. This is a remarkable result given the European economic outlook.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, which carried out the survey, says that the firms that responded carry out about €40 billion of research per year. They do three quarters of it in the EU, 13% in the US and Canada and the rest across China, Japan, India and non-EU Europe.

One ominous sign is that spending outside the EU is set to grow. While they plan to increase their R&D spending within the EU by 3% per year, they are eyeing annual growth of 25% in China, 8% in India, 17% in Japan and 5% in the US and Canada.

Firms say that the growing economic importance of India and China compels them to do more research there.

Of the firms surveyed, 40% say that buying research from outside partners, including universities, is important to their R&D effort. And 80% say that collaboration with universities and other higher education institutions is important or highly important to them.

This means that they rate university collaboration as being second only to the ease of recruiting skilled personnel as a reason to do research in Europe.

University collaboration is especially important to the most research-intensive firms, those in industries such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, which spend more than 5% of turnover on R&D.

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