Just a third of Irish firms spending money on innovation
ABOUT one in three Irish companies are spending money on innovation-related activities such as research and design (R&D), new data suggests.
Almost 34pc of Irish-owned enterprises had innovation- related expenditure between 2010 and 2012.
By contrast, while foreign-owned companies accounted for about a fifth of all businesses here, they spent €2.3bn on innovation, equating to two-thirds of all innovation-related spending. Overall, however, the spend on innovation appears to be rising.
Yesterday's figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) come just months after former Department of Finance Secretary General John Moran warned that Ireland lagged behind world and European leaders in innovation.
The data shows that Irish companies spent €1.36bn on innovation-related activities in 2012, of which €592m was spent on in-house R&D.
By contrast, while multi-nationals accounted for about a fifth of all businesses here, they spent €2.3bn on innovation or two-thirds of all innovation-related spending.
The Community Innovation Survey, which is published across Europe, showed that total spending on innovation activities in industry and selected services sectors in Ireland was in excess of €3.6bn in 2012 - up from €2.5bn in 2010.
The main driver behind the increase was the rise in spending on in-house research and development, to €1.86bn in 2012 from €1.25bn in 2010, as well as an increase in the amount spent on buying machinery to €922m.
Almost 26pc of Irish-owned enterprises bought in-house R&D related to innovation activities compared to 33pc of foreign-owned businesses.
Ireland had the 7th highest innovation spend per company on in-house R&D at €851,000 for the period 2008-2010 with Denmark having the highest spend per enterprise at €2.65m.
Comparable figures for 2010-2012 show the spend per enterprise in Ireland has risen to over €1m.
In May, in one of his final public addresses before he stepped down as secretary general, Mr Moran said businesses could be "lulled into a sense of comfort" about the scale of innovation in Ireland because of the level that was taking place in multinationals.
"We identified this as the number one structural issue that we have to deal with for this new economy that we want to create," he told the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) annual lunch.