Research & Development Headline Results: 2017

Date published: 28 November 2018

The NI R&D survey covers the Business Sector, Higher Education and Other Government financed activities. It provides important indicators of the extent to which Northern Ireland companies and higher education establishments are investing in the activities that underlie future economic development.

Key points  

  • In 2017 £759.2m was spent on Research & Development (R&D) by Businesses, Higher Education and Government in Northern Ireland (NI). This is an increase of £23.3m (3.2%) in cash terms compared to the previous year. Over the year, Business R&D spend increased by £18.9m. Higher Education and Government R&D spend also increased by £2.0m and £2.4m respectively from 2016 to 2017.
  • Of the £759.2m spent on total R&D, £542.8m (71.5%) was spent by Businesses, £195.8m (25.8%) by the Higher Education sector and the remainder (£20.5m or 2.7%) was Government expenditure.
  • The increase in total expenditure was primarily due to an increase of £18.9m (3.6% over the year) in Business expenditure. There were also increases of £2.0m in Higher Education expenditure (1.0%) and £2.4m in Government expenditure (13.2%).
  • Of the twelve United Kingdom (UK) regions, Northern Ireland reported the sixth largest annual increase in (in-house) R&D expenditure over the year (6.4%).
  • The ten biggest spending companies accounted for 36.9% of the total R&D spend in Northern Ireland in 2017, lower than in 2016 (38.8%).
  • There was a 20.3% increase (from 748 in 2016 to 900 in 2017) in the number of local and externally owned companies engaged in R&D over the year. Externally owned companies accounted for 56.9% of R&D expenditure compared to 43.1% of locally owned companies in 2017. R&D spend by locally owned companies reported an annual increase of 10.6% in cash terms.
  • R&D expenditure by Small and Medium-sized companies (SMEs) increased by 16.5% (£43.0m) from 2016 to 2017. In cash terms, since 2012 SME expenditure has increased by 75.3% (£130.7m) from £173.7m to £304.4m in 2017.
  • Full report

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