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.
The significance of research knowledge in the development of society and the economy has continually grown. This in turn increases the significance of cooperation and networking both between the public and the private sectors and within sectors. Through globalisation and international development, knowledge and expertise in its different forms have become key factors in the development of societies, which in turn is reflected in a consistent growth of research efforts. In addition to economic growth, an effective and efficient national innovation system is also increasingly considered to be a key factor in creating social wellbeing.