The amount of money spent by businesses in Ireland on research and development last year is expected to have hit €2bn, up slightly on the near €1.9bn that was spent in 2011.
But companies in Ireland are still spending less than the EU average on R&D, even as the country tries to focus on innovation across a range of sectors to lift the economy.
According to new figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), companies employing more than 50 people accounted for about 75pc of the total R&D spend in 2011 – the last year for which it has accurate data.
It said that about 72pc of businesses here spent less than €500,000 on R&D in 2011, with 10pc spending more than €2m. The CSO figures show that 27pc of foreign-owned multinationals spent over €2m in 2011, while 23pc spent between €500,000 and €2m.
The near €1.9bn spent on R&D in 2011 is the equivalent of 1.17pc of Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP).
The average R&D spend across the EU is the equivalent of 1.26pc of GDP.
The CSO said that more than 1,600 firms were engaged in R&D activity in Ireland during 2011.
More than 19,000 people in Ireland, or the equivalent of 14,000 on a full-time basis, were involved in R&D in 2011.
Nearly 10pc of those held a PhD qualification, over 75pc were male and 53pc of them were employed in foreign-owned companies.