Aussie businesses invest $16.9b in R&D

Australian firms are increasing their investment in research and development according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian firms are increasing their investment in research and development according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr welcomed new figures which show business expenditure on research and experimental development (BERD) reached $16.9 billion in 2008-09, a strong increase of 13 per cent in current price terms on the previous year.

“These figures show that Australian firms are committed to innovation. It shows they are keen to develop new products and services and to reap the immense benefits that come from being innovative,” Senator Carr said.

“To have such a significant growth in BERD, especially over a period that covers the Global Financial Crisis, is a testament to the resilience and confidence of the business community. It demonstrates that businesses understand that innovation and R&D are critical to their long term planning and prosperity.”

According to the figures, BERD, as a percentage of GDP, increased to 1.34 per cent in 2008-09 from 1.26 per cent in 2007-08. This growth lifted Australia from 14th to 11th among the 30 OECD countries.

The data also shows that:

• Business expenditure on R&D for pharmaceuticals has hit $1.024 billion in 2008-09, growth of 12 per cent over 2007-08.

• Large businesses continue to dominate BERD at almost $12 billion or 71 per cent of the total. Growth in SMEs’ business R&D was strong at 9 per cent.

• Manufacturing accounted for the largest share of BERD at almost 26 per cent.

• Human resources devoted to R&D in business increased by 5.3 per cent during 2008-09 with the total person years of effort reaching 53,556. High skilled jobs such as those of researchers and technicians accounted for more than 83 per cent of this total.

“This boost in BERD is a good sign for the Australian economy and it shows the business community is embracing innovation,” Senator Carr said.

“To keep this momentum going — and to benefit industries such as the pharmaceutical sector — it is essential that the proposed changes in the R&D Tax Credit are passed by the Parliament.”