New statistics show R&D investment is growing in NZ firms

More firms are creating better goods and services through greater spending on research and development in 2015, according to new figures from Statistics New Zealand.

“The percentage of firms aiming to come up with better goods and services rose significantly – to a 49 percent ‘innovation rate’ in 2015,” senior manager Stuart Jones said.

“This means that almost 1 in 2 firms spent on improving products and processes, research and development (R&D), design, and new ways of marketing.”

The department’s Business Operations Survey (see here) showed that total R&D spending in 2015 was up almost $200 million on 2014, to $1.4 billion. However, this survey is just one measure of estimated R&D spending.

Among the findings:

  • The largest growth in R&D spending was for medium-sized firms – those with 20 to 99 staff. Their R&D spending grew 19 per cent (to $434.6 million) compared with 2014. Large firms (with more than 100 employees) invested almost $800 million in R&D, up 15 per cent from 2014.
  • The “Innovation Rate” of New Zealand companies has increased from 46 per cent of all businesses to 49 per cent; the first increase since 2009.
  • In 2015, 73 per cent of the total R&D expenditure was carried out by businesses in the manufacturing ($494 million), and the professional, scientific, and technical services ($562 million) industries.

The Business Operations Survey is a modular survey that contains a repeating business operations module, an alternating information and communications technology (ICT) or innovation module, and a contracted module. In 2015, the contracted module focused on international engagement.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the survey findings.

“These are very encouraging numbers,” Mr Joyce says. “They show that the work the government is doing through Callaghan Innovation and the R&D Grants programme is helping have the desired effect of growing New Zealand’s Business R&D activity.”

New Zealand has historically had very low levels of R&D conducted by businesses compared to most OECD countries.





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