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Research and Development in Sweden 2020

Research and development expenditure increased in 2020

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2021-07-08 9.30

Expenditure on and full-time equivalents devoted to intramural research and development (R&D) increased in 2020 compared with 2019, preliminary statistics show.

Total expenditure on intramural R&D amounted to about SEK 174.7 billion in 2020, an increase of SEK 1.3 billion from 2019, corresponding to 0.7 percent, in fixed prices.

The business sector, which accounts for the majority of R&D expenditure, increased by 1.4 percent, thereby leading to the total increase. The corresponding figure for the government sector showed a decrease of 1.2 percent. Expenditure on R&D in the higher education sector decreased by 0.9 percent, excluding ALF funds. The decrease in this sector is in part due to an adjustment of method in the production of the statistics, described in the report “Forskning och utveckling i Sverige 2020 – preliminär statistik”. In the private non-profit sector, which is the smallest sector, R&D expenditure is estimated to have increased by 1.5 percent.

Intramural R&D expenditure in Sweden, by sector, 2019 and 2020, 2020 prices, SEK millions
  2019 2020
  Value ±CI Value ±CI
Sweden, total 173 422 3 246 174 690 3 196
Business enterprise sector 124 345 3 246 126 072 3 196
Higher education sector 41 050 40 684
Government sector 7 825 7 729
Private, non-profit sector 202 205

There were 116 267 FTEs performed in R&D in 2020, preliminary figures show. This is 3 872 FTEs more than in 2019, and corresponds to an increase of 3.4 percent. The figures include both employees and hired personnel.

In the business enterprise sector, FTEs increased by 3.9 percent. FTEs performed by employees increased by 6.8 percent, while FTEs performed by hired personnel decreased by 5.3 percent. In the government sector, the number of FTEs increased by 1.3 percent, based on an increase of 2.9 percent in FTEs performed by employees and a decrease of 19.9 percent in FTEs performed by consultants. In the higher education sector, FTEs increased by 2.2 percent, based on an increase of 2.3 percent in FTEs performed by employees. In the private non-profit sector, the number of FTEs remained unchanged from 2019.

Full time equivalents in intramural R&D by employees, by sector, 2019 and 2020
  2019 2020
  Value Value
Sweden, total 112 395 116 267
Business enterprise sector 84 473 87 794
Higher education sector 22 080 22 555
Government sector 5 735 5 811
Private, non-profit sector 107 107

These results are based on forecast data from Statistics Sweden’s R&D surveys and preliminary figures from the Community Innovation Survey. This means that the statistics are uncertain and may be revised. Final figures will be published on 28 October. Further information is available in the report “Forskning och utveckling i Sverige 2020 – preliminär statistik”.

Government budget allocations to R&D in 2021

In addition to statistics on R&D in 2020, the report also contains statistics on government budget allocations to R&D in 2021, according to the most recently decided additional amending budgets. Central government budget funds to R&D in 2021 are estimated at SEK 43.1 billion, which is an increase of about SEK 426 million in current prices, compared with the estimate based on the earlier autumn Budget Bill.

Definitions and explanations


Research and experimental development (R&D) comprises creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of human kind, culture and society – and to devise new applications of available knowledge. The activity must be novel, creative, uncertain, systematic, and transferable and/or reproducible.

Intramural R&D

Activities carried out in Sweden by the organisation’s own personnel, or by consultants in an R&D project led by the organisation, where the organisation’s personnel have worked together with consultants. Intramural R&D includes R&D assigned by others.

FTE on R&D

One full-time equivalent is defined as the number of hours conventionally worked by a full-time employee over one year. Thus, a full-time employee spending half their working hours on R&D spends 0.5 FTEs on R&D. One person can never perform more than one FTE, even if the person works overtime.

ALF funds reporting

ALF refers to an agreement between central government and seven regions concerning medical training and research that regulates the amount of central government compensation for the regions commitment to participate in medical education, conduct clinically oriented medical research, and develop health and medical care. Although central government issues compensation via universities, economic reporting is to be done by the regions.

As from reference year 2019, expenditure for Intramural R&D financed by ALF funds are reported under the government sector instead of under the higher education sector. This change was made because the use of ALF funds occurs in the regions’ activities, and therefore are reported there in accordance with the recommendations of the Frascati Manual. For reporting in each respective sector, independent of each other, ALF funds are reported as before.


Revisions of information in the Statistical Database on R&D in Sweden have also been made in connection with this publication. Further information is available in the table footnotes.

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

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Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Innovation, Business sector production and Research section

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171 54 Solna

ICT, Business cycle and R&D unit



Petter Ehn Wingårdh

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