Science, technology and innovation (STI) is increasingly viewed as fundamental to achieving economic and sustainable growth. Crucially, advances in STI could be harnessed to help overcome some of the greatest challenges to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of the SDG Agenda 2030, countries have pledged to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. In particular, SDG target 9.5 calls upon nations to encourage innovation and substantially increase their numbers of researchers, as well as public and private spending on R&D. The UIS, as the custodian agency, collects data and produces two key indicators to monitor progress towards this SDG target – SDG 9.5.1 R&D expenditure as a proportion of GDP and SDG 9.5.2 Researchers per million inhabitants.

Today, the UIS launches its 2021 Survey of R&D Statistics for reference years 2019 and 2020 to produce the above indicators. The questionnaires and related materials are available on the UIS website at: The importance of increased investment in Research and Development (R&D) has never been more apparent in surmounting the challenges faced in the current global pandemic. As the official source for R&D data for the United Nations, you will also find UIS data cited in many global indices, reports and databases.

Governments and policy makers equipped with reliable and comparable data on R&D are better placed to plan and monitor national R&D efforts. Nonetheless, in light of these difficult times, we do acknowledge the significant reporting burden a survey may impose on nations in order to meet the SDG 9.5 commitments. Thus, this year’s Survey will collect only the essential data necessary to produce the SDG 9.5 indicators. Country-level data and indicators collected from this Survey will be released in 2022 through the UIS Data Centre.