The technology component of the CDI analyses policies of the rich countries that support creation and dissemination of new technologies, which can profoundly shape life in developing countries. To assess a country’s commitment to global technological development, the CDI’s technology component measures two key areas: 

  1. Government support for research and development (including tax incentives for private sector R&D), and
  2. An intellectual property rights system that helps, or does not impede, the flow of or access to new knowledge and technologies to the developing world.

Overall, the technology component of the CDI rewards government funding and tax breaks for research and development, but penalises certain patent and copyright rules deemed too restrictive to the flow of ideas across borders.

Europe's Technology Policies

Europe’s top performers on Technology


High government expenditure on research and development, and high subsidy rate to business for research and development


Highest tax subsidy rate to businesses for research and development in the CDI


Low share of government research and development expenditure on defence (0.32%)


Provides patent exceptions for research purposes

Europe’s lowest performers on Technology


Lowest government expenditure on research and development in the CDI


Pushes to extend intellectual property rights in bilateral trade treaties (“TRIPS Plus” measures) that restrict the flow of innovations to developing countries


Offers patent-like proprietary rights to developers of data compilations, including those assembled from data in the public domain


Provides patent exceptions for research purposes

Technological activities in Europe have worldwide implications, as European countries are some of the leading suppliers of technologies in the world. In recent years, European donor countries have fallen in rank in terms of their measured commitment, effort, or contribution to technological development in the developing world. 

In 2012, Europe’s performance on technology is roughly in line with the global average. Europe’s performance to date, according to the CDI, suggests that its efforts to help developing economies build a sound and viable technological base fall below those of other developed countries, like the US, Japan, Australia, and Canada.  Europe’s public support for R&D appears below potential and Europe’s increased stringency of IPRs seems to impede the flow of technologies to developing countries and reduce individuals in these poor countries to new knowledge.

The European countries have lagged behind other developed countries in supporting the dissemination of technologies to the developing world.  This is regretful since Europe is a leading source of innovations.  Given its collective wealth, endowments, productive capacity, and strong institutions and governance, Europe has the potential to contribute more to global technological development.

We recommend that European governments focus their policy changes in three key activities: (1) increase public R&D in technology areas that most benefit developing nations; (2) relax the stringent intellectual property laws that impede the diffusion of technologies to developing nations; and (3) take a more active lead in the process of transferring substantive technologies to the developing world. Attending to these activities should enhance Europe’s role in global economic development and its rank in the CDI’s commitment to the technological development of developing economies. 

For more on technology, explore the Making Markets for Vaccines initiative and related experts.

Read the Europe Beyond Aid Working Paper.


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