A touch of R&D: businesses ramp up development spending

Research and development (R&D) has always been a key part of any business, but numbers released by Statistics New Zealand today show just exactly how much money we’re putting in to developing new things (or improving old things).

Statistics New Zealand's latest report on business expenditure on R&D show Kiwi companies are spending money on R&D as a way to gain entry into new markets.

A poll done by Statistics New Zealand also show no let-up in investments on R&D with nearly half of businesses in the survey expecting to increase their R&D activity in the coming year, while “a further one-third expect their level of activity to remain the same”.

Businesses have also continued to report increases in R&D spending every year since the survey began, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Business R&D expenditure, which accounts for about half of the nation's R&D spending, rose by $53m to $1.25b for 2014. The services industries saw the greatest increases, up 19 percent to $632m in 2014, overtaking manufacturing as the largest R&D spender. Within the services sub-industry, the highest increase was seen at computer services, whose R&D expenditure rose from $221m in 2012 to $311m in 2014. 

Total R&D expenditure (public and higher education sectors) remained around $2.6b in 2014, as government and higher education (university) spending fell.

On the whole, basic and applied research has actually decreased from 2012, but experimental development has increased, which means there’s more money being spent on utilising more practical knowledge to improve materials, processes, or products instead of trying to break new ground.

At the same time, as most of the businesses surveyed undertook R&D to explore the possibility of gaining entry into new markets, the vast majority expect to being able to break even by the five year mark.

Business performance manager Jason Attewell says a nearly half of businesses in the survey expect to increase their R&D activity in the coming year, while “a further one-third expect their level of activity to remain the same”.

The Research and Development Survey measures expenditure on R&D based on international definitions, and is conducted every two years.

More information can be found here.