R&D spend rises 16% to €18.7bn

IRISH companies are continuing to invest in research and development (R&D) projects, despite the economic downturn.

Figures from enterprise agency Forfás show that R&D spend increased by more than 16% to €18.7 billion in 2009, with estimates adding that another increase is anticipated as part of 2010’s final figures.

“The results indicate that despite expectations, R&D expenditure in Irish indigenous businesses remained strong during 2009 and estimates indicate continued growth in R&D spend in 2010,” said Forfás chief executive Martin Shanahan.

“During a recession, you might expect to see companies make cuts in areas such as innovation and R&D spend.

“However, these figures show that Irish businesses are continuing to invest in R&D, mainly due to recognition of the importance of bringing new and innovative goods and services to the market to remain competitive and to grow exports.

Forfás sees this as hugely positive, as it is this sustained R&D investment that will provide the basis for future economic growth, jobs and exports.”

The survey covers all enterprises actively engaged in R&D activities across all sectors.

It provides final R&D expenditure figures for 2009 and preliminary estimates for 2010.

The preliminary estimates for 2010 indicate that Irish companies are expecting to increase slightly their R&D outlay to €583 million, up 3.6% from €563m in 2009.

However, foreign-owned enterprises expect a fall in R&D expenditure of 4.2% to €1.25bn in 2010 from €1.31bn in 2009.

There has been a marked increase in R&D expenditure in experimental near to market research, meanwhile, with 68% of R&D falling into this category in 2009, up from 57% in 2007.

Small enterprises expect to increase R&D to €326m in 2010 (a rise of 8.7% on 2009 levels), while medium-sized and large companies expect to spend €1.51bn, down 3.9% on 2009 levels.


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