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Healthy Growth In R&D Spend Led By Private Sector

Media release 4 May 2005

Healthy growth in R&D spending led by private sector

The 2004 survey of research and development (R&D) activity in New Zealand shows healthy growth in R&D, totalling $1.601 billion in the survey period.

The growth was led by a sizeable increase in R&D activity within the private sector. R&D in that sector totalled $648.1 million, with the university sector performing R&D to the value of $454.8 million, and the government sector, $498.4 million.

Although not directly comparable with the 2002 survey because of changes in the design, there has been an overall increase in total R&D of 13.1% between 2002 and 2004. That increase was largely due to an increase of 24.5% in private sector R&D, 8.4 % in the government sector and 4.4% in the university sector.

The biggest rises on a sector basis in private sector R&D were within the manufacturing sector and in the computer services sector.

The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, Dr Helen Anderson says the rise in R&D activity in these areas is particularly significant for New Zealand's future economic growth, and for increasing opportunities for the research community.

"Research and development are vital if New Zealand is to add value to its products and produce innovative products, services and processes," Dr Anderson says.

Overall, research and development across all sectors equates to 1.17% of GDP, compared with 1.15% in 2002. This figure is still relatively low by international standards. Australia reported R&D expenditure as 1.62% of GDP in 2002, while the OECD average was 2.26 percent.

Dr Anderson says the rise is encouraging, especially since there has been strong growth in GDP recently.

"However, we need to keep our sights on increasing R&D as a proportion of GDP so that we do not continue to lag behind other countries such as Australia, Ireland, and Norway. Ultimately, our goal is to come closer to the OECD average."

The R&D Survey is conducted every two years. It is commissioned by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and carried out by Statistics New Zealand.

More information on the detail of the survey and the methodology used can be found on the Statistics New Zealand website at


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