Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today welcomed figures that show Northern Ireland saw the highest ever Research and Development (R&D) expenditure in 2011.
Investment was up by 9% in cash terms, also equating to a 6% real terms rise.
Total R&D investment rose from £521.4million in 2010 to £567.5million in 2011.
Over the year, total Business R&D expenditure increased in cash terms by £44.8million (13%) to £388.8million. There was also an increase of £2.5million (2%) in Higher Education expenditure to £164.3million.
The increase in Business R&D expenditure was due to higher spend by externally owned companies – up 23% (from £234.1m in 2010 to £287.7m in 2011). Northern Ireland Businesses’ (in–house) R&D expenditure has shown the sixth highest percentage annual increase (9%) of the UK regions, with a rise in R&D investment from £324million in 2010 to £354million in 2011.
Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster said: “I very much welcome the latest figures which show the highest expenditure ever on R&D in Northern Ireland. It is very encouraging to see that Business Research & Development (R&D) expenditure is the highest figure on record. Businesses spent some £389 million on R&D in 2011, an increase of 13% over the year. This shows that despite the difficult economic conditions, businesses are still prepared to invest heavily in their future competitiveness.
“It is also encouraging to see an increase in the total R&D expenditure for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. This continues to be a priority area as well as continuing to further exploit our reputation for excellence in specific niche areas as identified by the science/industry MATRIX panel. “
The Minister added: “Best practice research illustrates the vital role that innovation and R&D has to play in Northern Ireland’s economic development. Those companies that continue to invest in R&D, despite difficult trading conditions, will be best placed to exploit future opportunities.
“We must continue to extend the number of companies who devote resources to R&D and to make this an integral part of business culture in Northern Ireland. 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.”