A bloc of 10 Asian countries now accounts for 32% of global spending on science

According to a report from the National Science Foundation, a bloc of 10 Asian countries - China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam - now counts for 32% of the global share of spending on science, while the US spends 31%. This growth is mainly driven by developments in China, says the biennial report Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 but several other economies have also played a role.

The Asia-8 group of countries [India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand] are developing world-class research and S&T infrastructures and act like a loosely structured supplier zone for China’s high-technology manufacturing export industries.

That supplier zone is increasingly including Japan as China is now the second largest R&D performer globally, with 12% of the global spend, overtaking Japan for the first time.

‘Governments in many parts of the developing world, viewing science and technology as integral to economic growth and development, have set out to build more knowledge-intensive economies,’ says the report.

‘They have taken steps to open their markets to trade and foreign investment, develop their S&T infrastructures, stimulate industrial R&D, expand their higher education systems, and build indigenous R&D capabilities. Over time, global S&T capabilities have grown, nowhere more so than in Asia.’

Laura Howes