Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive, Invest Northern Ireland, has welcomed the latest figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) which show that business expenditure in Research & Development (R&D) in Northern Ireland is at record levels.
Referencing the statistics from the 2013 Research & Development Survey released today, Mr Hamilton said: “Business R&D expenditure of £481.8m is at the highest figure on record. This is a marked increase over the last five years and now accounts for 75 per cent of expenditure on R&D in Northern Ireland.
“This would tally with the excellent performance Invest NI has had in delivering against our Programme for Government (PfG) target to support £300 million investment by businesses in R&D. In our latest results released earlier this month we confirmed that we have supported £441million of investment in R&D over the last three and a half years, well exceeding our four year target.
“It is heartening to note that the biggest increase in R&D spend comes from locally owned companies, up 16 per cent; and accounts for 25 per cent of total business R&D.
“The report also shows that SME expenditure in R&D has increased, by 64 per cent since 2008. This is again a positive trend. We have seen increased investment in R&D by SMEs supported through Invest NI, and of the £441m investment we have supported 27 per cent of that has been with SMEs, against a target of 20 per cent.
“Once again, Northern Ireland is outperforming the UK in R&D spend as a proportion of Gross Value Added, 1.5 per cent compared with 1.3 percent for the UK average.
“It is encouraging that the NISRA stats are also showing an increase in the number of companies spending on R&D, though this is still a relatively small number. R&D is a crucial part of the business mix and essential for any business that wishes to stay ahead of its competitors and to compete for business on a global scale.
“The ability of Northern Ireland to attract foreign investment in the future is increased significantly by the strength of R&D activity in both the business and Higher Education sectors.”