€42 million spent in Research & Development in 2010
According to newly released NSO statistics, during 2012, the total expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) activities amounted to €42 million, or 0.68% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This was a significant increase of €10.2 million from 2009.
The Business Enterprise sector contributed 62.3% to the total R&D, whereas the Higher Education and Government sectors contributed 34% and 3.7% respectively.
The higher outlay was driven by an increase in recurrent expenditure of €5.9 million, mainly as a result of higher labour costs and other recurrent expenditure in the Business Enterprise sector.
Moreover, more outlays on capital expenditure by €2.9 million were also recorded for the Higher Education sector, reflecting additional investment at the University of Malta in instruments, equipment, land and buildings. These were mainly financed through EU funds.
Labour costs represented 64.1% of total expendure, whereas other recurrent expenditure and capital projects had a share of 24.1% and 11.8% respectively.
Also in 2012, the fields of Engineering and Technology and Natural Sciences recorded a substantial rise in R&D activity when compared to previous years, contributing 53.9% and 33.6% to the increase in total R&D expenditure.
R&D expenditure related to Engineering and Technology accounted for 40.5% of total expenditure, followed by Natural Sciences, with 28.2% and Medical Sciences, with 13.1%.
The majority of R&D activity in Engineering and Technology and Natural Sciences was undertaken by business enterprises whereas research in relation to Social Sciences was mainly carried out by the Higher Education sector.
Each sector mostly funds its own research, supplemented by foreign funds, mainly foreign business enterprise funds for the Business Enterprise sector and EU funds for the Higher Education and Government sectors. Foreign funds for R&D reached €4.7 million, or 11.3% of total funds.
In 2010, 1,836 employees were engaged in R&D work, of whom 1,117 dedicated part of their time to R&D. The highest R&D employment rate was registered for the Higher Education sector, at 933 employees, followed by the Business Enterprise sector, with 825 employees.Men constituted the majority of researchers and technicians.
Other sectors registering high employment related to R&D were Engineering and Technology with 626 employees, followed by Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, with 407 and 299 employees respectively.
In reference to this morning’s NSO statistics, the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) said that it is pleased with this improvement and recognised the importance of allocation of European funds to this end.
Sustained investment in research infrastructures is crucial, MCAST said, since it provides researchers with the necessary facilities, resources and related services and enables further research that in turn contributes towards knowledge creation and the development of new applications.
In the long term, these investments can also translate into more opportunities and a greater pool of researchers in Malta, MCAST continued.
MCAST added that a surge in the funding disbursed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology through the National R&I (Risk and Insurance) Programme in 2010 also contributed towards the increase in the level of R&D. The aim of this programme is to support knowledge transfer between academia and industry and to sustain further research and innovation.
R&D strength in the engineering and technology sectors gives these industries a competitive edge, MCAST concluded.