India’s scientific R&D spending sees 3X growth

India’s gross expenditure in scientific research and development (R&D) has tripled over 2008-18, driven mainly by the Government sector, as per the R&D Statistics and Indicators 2019-20 based on the national S&T Survey 2018 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST)

May 2, 2020

To build S&T capabilities, the Union Budget 2020-21 allotted the largest-ever fund for scientific research and development

The Gross expenditure on R&D in the country nearly tripled from Rs.394.4 billion in 2007- 08 to Rs.1.1 trillion in 2017-18

India occupies 3rd rank in terms of the number of PhDs awarded in Science and Engineering (S&E) after the US and China

During 2017-18 a total of 47,854 patents were filed in India. Out of which, 15,550 patents were filed by Indian residents

India’s gross expenditure in scientific research and development (R&D) has tripled over 2008-18, driven mainly by the Government sector, as per the R&D Statistics and Indicators 2019-20 based on the national S&T Survey 2018 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). R&D indicators are a vital resource for policymaking in higher education, R&D activity, intellectual property, and industrial competitiveness. To strengthen indigenous scientific capabilities, the Government of India has been studying the indicators pertaining to the spread of investment in scientific R&D, R&D relationship with the GDP, manpower engaged in R&D, papers published, patents, and their international S&T comparisons, etc. This has greatly contributed to the building of a science-driven and future-ready economy. 

India’s Gross expenditure on R&D nearly tripled from Rs.394.4 billion in 2007-08 to Rs.1.1 trillion in 2017-18 with science as a key focus

In line with the focus on building capabilities in S&T, the Union Budget 2020-21 allotted the largest-ever funding for scientific research and development. The Budget, introduced on February 1, also announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA) with a total outlay of over US$1.1 billion. The mission will be implemented for a period of five years by the DST. Presenting the budget, Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman said that the new economy was based on innovations that disrupt established, business models. Artificial intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), automation, 3D printing, quantum computing, drones, among other next-gen innovations, are re-writing the world economic order. Hence the Government is keen to drive innovation and investment in this space.

To empower the S&T ecosystem, the Central Government surveyed more than 6,800 S&T institutions spread across varied sectors like central government, state governments, higher education, public sector industry, and private sector industry. The key findings of the survey are:

  • The Gross expenditure on R&D in the country nearly tripled from Rs.394.4 billion in 2007- 08 to Rs.1.1 trillion in 2017-18
  • India’s per capita scientific R&D expenditure has increased to PPP US$47.20 in 2017-18 from PPP US$29.20 in 2007-08
  • India occupies 3rd rank in terms of the number of PhDs awarded in Science and Engineering (S&E) after the US (39,710 in 2016) and China (34,440 in 2015)
  • The number of researchers per million population in India has increased to 255 in 2017 from 218 in 2015 and 110 in 2000
  • Women participation in extramural R&D projects rose to 24% in 2016-17 from 13% in 2000-01 due to various initiatives
  • During 2017-18 a total of 47,854 patents were filed in India. Out of which, 15,550 patents were filed by Indian residents
  • India’s R&D expenditure/researcher was 185 (‘000 PPP$) in 2017-18 and was ahead of Russia, Israel, Hungary, Spain, and the UK
  • Patents filed in India led by disciplines like Mechanical, Chemical, Computer/Electronics, and Communication
  • According to WIPO, India’s Patent Office stands at the 7th position among the top 10 Patent Filing Offices in the world
  • As of April 2018, nearly 552,000 personnel were employed in various R&D establishments across the country

India is placed 3rd among countries in the scientific publication as per US-based National Science Foundation (NSF):

  • During 2018, India was ranked at 3rd, 5th and 9th in scientific publication output as per the NSF, Scopus database and Science Citation Index (SCI), respectively
  • During 2011-16, India’s growth rate of scientific publication as per the SCOPUS and SCI was 8.4% and 6.4% as against the world average of 1.9% and 3.7%, respectively

India has risen to the 3rd position globally in terms of scientific publications as well as in the number of PhD in science and engineering, as per the US-based National Science Foundation (NSF). With the rise in India’s population and growing awareness as well as accessibility to higher education, the number of researchers per million population has also doubled since 2000. The Government of India, on its part, has improved funding for higher education and scientific research while establishing partnerships with academic and research organisations as well as governments around the world to enable research and development (R&D) activities. Focus on science is a key part of the Government’s efforts to strengthen human resources and in turn the economy for the opportunities and the challenges of the future.