Research and Development

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


The 2020 R&D Survey results indicate that £912.6 million (m) was spent on R&D in NI in 2020. Of the £912.6m, £661.4m (72.5%) was spent by Businesses, £222.3m (24.4%) by Higher Education establishments and £28.9m (3.2%) by Government departments.


Latest results – published 15th December 2021

  • In 2020, £912.6m was spent on R&D by Businesses, Higher Education establishments and Government departments in NI. This is an increase of £29.4m in cash terms over the year.
  • Business R&D spend increased by £29.6m; Higher Education R&D spend increased by £0.7m and Government R&D spend decreased by £1.0m from 2019 to 2020.

  • There was a 2.1% increase in the number companies engaged in business R&D over the year (from 970 in 2019 to 990 in 2020). The ten biggest spending companies accounted for one third of all business R&D spend in NI in 2020.
  • 92.8% of all business R&D spend in 2020 in NI was in-house R&D work. The remaining 7.2% of spend was purchased R&D.  The majority of in-house R&D spend was self-funded within the company (64.3%).

  • In 2020, in-house business expenditure on R&D equated to 1.5% of GVA(2019).
  • In 2020, there were 8,460 full-time equivalents (FTE) working in R&D related roles in NI; 38% worked as researchers; 29% as technicians and 33% were other staff.
  • Externally owned companies accounted for 50.7% of R&D.

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