Concepts




Research and development activity


Research and development activity (R&D) is understood as systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge and use it to devise new applications. The defining criterion is that the purpose of the activity should be the presence of an appreciable element of novelty. Research and development activity includes basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Basic research is defined as work undertaken to acquire new knowledge, without any particular application in view. Basic research includes analyses of properties, structures and relationships with a view to formulating and testing hypotheses, theories or regularities.

Applied research is work undertaken to acquire new knowledge directed primarily towards a specific practical application. Applied research includes seeding applications for the findings of basic research or determining new methods or ways of solving a particular problem.

Product and process development (experimental development) is systematic work that draws on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience with the aim of producing new materials, products, processes, methods and systems or of substantially improving existing ones.



Validity of the definition

  • 1 January 1900 - 31 December 2015

Source organisation

  • OECD

Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society – and to devise new applications of available knowledge.

The five criteria for identifying R&D:

To be aimed at new findings (novel)
The aim of the R&D is to produce new knowledge and novelties. Mere application of the existing knowledge in development of new solutions, products or procedures is not R&D activity.

To be based on original, not obvious, concepts and hypotheses (creative)
Characteristic to R&D activity is creativity, setting and testing of new hypothesis and concepts. Routine activities in the development of products, processes or other procedures in not R&D activity.

To be uncertain about the final outcome (uncertain)
R&D involves uncertainty regarding outcomes and costs.

To be planned and budgeted (systematic)
R&D is conducted in a planned way, with records kept of both the process followed and the outcome. The purpose of the R&D project and the sources of funding for the R&D performed should be identified. R&D is often organized as a project, but it can also be goal-oriented activity of a person or a group.

To lead to results that could be possibly reproduced (transferable and/or reproducible)
An R&D project should result in the potential for the transfer of the new knowledge which also can be reproduced.

Distribution by type of R&D

Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.

Applied research is original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific, practical aim or objective.

Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience and producing additional knowledge, which is directed to producing new products or processes or to improving existing products or processes.



Validity of the definition

  • Valid until (31 December 2078)

Source organisation

  • Tilastokeskus

Jaa