Research and Development

The Northern Ireland Research & Development (R&D) Survey provides information on the level of R&D activity in Northern Ireland (NI).

In light of the methodological changes to the survey we plan to initiate a Research and Development expert user group, if you are interested in joining this group, please email

The 2022 R&D Survey results indicate that £1,120.1 million (m) was spent on R&D in NI in 2022 (0.7% less than in 2021). Of the £1,120.1m, £850.7m (75.9%) was spent by Businesses, £242.2m (21.6%) by Higher Education Establishments and £27.1m (2.4%) by Government Departments.

Key points – published 28th February 2024

  • The methodology employed to produce Business R&D spend estimates has been improved to better represent R&D performance across the Northern Ireland economy. This improvement has produced figures which provide the best current estimate of Business level R&D spend at the Northern Ireland level and has been validated against other available data.
  • Total expenditure on R&D in Northern Ireland decreased by 5.5% in real terms between 2021 and 2022.
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (with 0-249 employees) accounted for 47.8% of BERD in 2022. Large firms (with more than 250 employees) accounted for 52.2% of BERD.
  • There were 16,270 FTEs working in an R&D role in 2022.
  • Just under half of all business expenditure on R&D in 2022 can be attributed to the Services Sector (£385.2m, 45.3%). 
  • Just over two-fifths of total BERD was attributed to companies in the Belfast Local Government District (LGD) in 2022.
  • The majority of funding for BERD in 2022 was self-funded by the companies carrying out the R&D work (63.4%).

To maintain the quality of the Northern Ireland R&D statistics, this publication will feature a reduced number of detailed breakdowns compared with pre-2021 R&D releases. The existing Accredited Official Statistics designation (previously referred to as National Statistics) for the Northern Ireland level R&D figures will remain (Chart 1, Chart 2, Chart 3, Chart 10 and Chart 11 of the PDF publication) as they comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. To help convey the developmental nature of the sub-NI components, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has asked the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to temporarily pause the Accredited Statistics status of more detailed breakdowns. The OSR confirmed their agreement to this approach in their letter published on 8th December 2022.

As detailed in their letter published on 26th of February 2024, we will continue working with the OSR to review the detailed breakdowns following the introduction of the new methodology (employed for 2022 data), with the aim of reaccrediting these statistics back to Accredited Official Statistics status in the next release.

NISRA has worked closely with Office for National Statistics (ONS) colleagues to redesign the BERD methodology to be more reflective of R&D performance across the Northern Ireland economy. This has ensured that there is consistency in approach and coherence with the methodological improvements implemented by the ONS for the UK equivalent figures. Further information on methodological improvements that have occurred over the previous two years can be found at the below links.

Options for Transformation of Business Enterprise Research and Development Statistics - Office for National Statistics

Business enterprise research and development, UK - Office for National Statistics (

Gross domestic expenditure on research and development, UK: 2020 - Office for National Statistics (

Methodological improvements have been implemented at the Northern Ireland level from 2018 to 2022, meaning that comparisons of detailed estimates before 2018 are not possible.

Current publication 

Archive data and quality report


Most recent documents

Contacts for Research and Development

Research and Development

Aaron Maguire
Telephone: 028 9052 9436
Twitter: @NISRA