Research and Development

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

The survey covers the Business sector, the Higher Education sector 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.

Latest results – published 28 November 2017

  • In 2016 £739.3m was spent on Research & Development (R&D) by Businesses, Higher Education and Government in Northern Ireland (NI). This is a decrease of £9.4m (1.3%) in cash terms compared to the previous year. Over the year, Business R&D spend decreased by £15.3m, whereas Higher Education and Government R&D spend increased by £0.9m and £5.0m respectively from 2015 to 2016.
  • Of the £739.3m spent on total R&D, £523.8m (70.9%) was spent by Businesses, £193.8m (26.2%) by the Higher Education sector and the remainder (£21.7m or 2.9%) was Government expenditure.
  • The decrease in total expenditure was primarily due to a decrease of £15.3m (2.8% over the year) in Business expenditure. There was however, increases of £0.9m in Higher Education expenditure (0.5%) and £5.0m in Government expenditure (29.9%).
  • Of the twelve United Kingdom (UK) regions, Northern Ireland reported the largest annual decrease in (in-house) R&D expenditure over the year (-4.0%).
  • The ten biggest spending companies accounted for 38.8% of the total R&D spend in Northern Ireland in 2016, lower than in 2015 (46.6%).
  • There was a 4.7% increase (from 713 in 2015 to 748 in 2016) in the number of local and externally owned companies engaged in R&D over the year. Externally owned companies accounted for 59.8% of R&D expenditure compared to 40.2% of locally owned companies in 2016. R&D spend by locally owned companies reported an annual increase of 10.2% in cash terms.
  • R&D expenditure by Small and Medium-sized companies (SMEs) increased by 5.3% (£13.3m) from 2015 to 2016. In cash terms, since 2011 SME expenditure has increased by 89.5% (£125.9m) from £140.6m to £266.5m.

Current publication 

Archive data and quality report


Most recent documents

Contacts for Research and Development

Research and Development

Dr Catherine Lynn
Telephone: 028 9052 9359