Record spend on research and development in 2009

Northern Ireland saw the highest ever Research and Development (R&D), expenditure, in 2009. Investment was up by 40% in cash terms.

Total R&D investment rose from £344.0million in 2008 to £482.8million in 2009.

Over the year total Business R&D expenditure increased by £139.8million (76%) to £323.7million. There was also an increase of £0.2million (1%) in Government expenditure to £16.1million and a decrease in Higher Education expenditure of £1.2million (-1%) to £143.0million over the same period.

This is the highest total Business R&D expenditure on record in Northern Ireland. Between 2004 and 2009, overall Business R&D expenditure increased by 151% in cash terms (from £129.0million to £323.7million).

Northern Ireland Businesses’ (in–house) R&D expenditure has shown the highest percentage annual increase (74%) of the UK regions, with a rise in R&D investment from £171million in 2008 to £297million in 2009.

Commenting on the figures, the Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster said: "It is very encouraging to see that Business Research & Development (R&D) expenditure is the highest figure on record. Businesses spent some £324million on R&D in 2009, an increase of 76% over the year. This shows that despite the difficult economic conditions, businesses are still prepared to invest heavily in their future competitiveness.

“These results are particularly encouraging in the context of the Independent Review of Economic Policy, which indicated that R&D and wider Innovation should be considered as a top priority in a small open economy such as Northern Ireland."

The Minister added: "Although we have shown the highest percentage annual increase in business R&D expenditure, of the UK regions, there is, of course, no room for complacency. Many of our knowledge based businesses have found it a challenge to compete by themselves, simply because of the relatively small scale of their business activity.

"I particularly welcome the increase in R&D expenditure by SMEs, which rose in cash terms by 36% over the year.

"My Department’s MATRIX initiative is designed to address this by promoting industry led collaborative ventures. This will allow businesses to pool their complementary talents and work with universities and research organisations to obtain a real competitive edge in the global market. I would encourage businesses to take part in this initiative through the wide range of Invest NI tailored programmes available.”

Arlene Foster concluded: "Investing in R&D, innovation and collaborative ventures will provide the high quality jobs and the critical mass of successful businesses that this economy needs to grow."