Research and Development

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

The 2018 Research and Development (R&D) Survey results released at 9.30am today indicated that £794 million was spent on Research & Development in Northern Ireland in 2018. Of the £794 million, £549.3m (69.2%) was spent by Businesses, £221.9m (27.9%) by Higher Education establishments and £22.8m (2.9%) by Government departments.

Latest results – published 21st November 2019

  • In 2018, £794 million (m) was spent on Research & Development (R&D) by Businesses, Higher Education and Government in Northern Ireland (NI). This is an increase of £38.9m in cash terms over the year. Business R&D spend increased by £10.7m; Higher Education and Government R&D spend also increased by £25.8m and £2.5m respectively from 2017 to 2018.
  • Of the £794m spent on total R&D, £549.3m (69.2%) was spent by Businesses, £221.9m (27.9%) by the Higher Education sector and the remainder (£22.8m or 2.9%) was Government expenditure.

  • There was a 7.1% increase (from 897 in 2017 to 961 in 2018) in the number companies engaged in business R&D over the year. The ten biggest spending companies accounted for one third of all R&D spend in Northern Ireland in 2018.
  • 95.4% of all R&D spend in 2018 in NI was in-house R&D work. The remaining 4.6% of spend was purchased R&D.
  • The majority of in-house R&D spend was self-funded within the company (62.1%)

  • In 2018, business expenditure on R&D (BERD) equated to 1.3% of GVA.
  • In 2018, there were 8,010 full-time equivalents (FTEs) working in R&D related roles in NI; 41.0% worked as researchers; 30.4% as technicians and 28.6% were other staff.
  • Externally owned companies accounted for 51.9% of R&D expenditure compared to 48.1% of locally owned companies in 2018.

Current publication 

Archive data and quality report


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Contacts for Research and Development

Research and Development

Aaron Maguire
Telephone: 028 9052 9436
Twitter: @NISRA