Multinationals responsible for bulk of research and development spending
Multinational companies account for the bulk of spending by Irish business on research and development (RD), according to figures published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office.
Companies in Ireland spent €1.9 billion on in-house RD in 2011, fractionally below the 2010 level. Provisional EU figures indicate Irish business expenditure on RD – at 1.17 per cent of gross domestic product – was below the EU average, which stood at 1.26 per cent.
Ireland’s comparative performance is much poorer than that of other northern European countries with large high-technology sectors. Nine countries had higher business RD spending in 2011. Foreign-owned enterprises accounted for €1.3 billion of the total RD spend, with indigenous firms spending just €600 million. Without the contribution of multinationals, Ireland would have one of the lowest levels of RD spending in the EU.
In 2011 more than 19,000 people (or 14,000 on a full-time equivalent basis) were engaged in RD activities. Almost 10 per cent of RD staff held a PhD qualification. More than 60 per cent of total RD expenditure was generated in the services sector. This reflects the shift in multinational activity towards service provision.
Almost three-quarters of the total expenditure on in-house RD in 2011 was by medium-sized and large enterprises (employing 50 people or more).