Total spending on research and development (R&D) activities in Malta was up by €7.2m (12.3%) in 2017, reaching €65.9m, according to figures published by the National Statistics Office (NSO). The total expenditure came to 0.58% of Malta’s GDP. The 2018 government budget allocated €25.746m for R&D, €3.8m more than in 2017.
The business enterprise sector contributed 65.3% to total R&D, whereas the higher education and government sectors contributed 33.8% and 0.9%, respectively.
Primarily, the R&D expenditure is dedicated to basic research, with 52.1% of total R&D in 2017, followed by applied research (32.6%) and experimental development (15.3%).
In addition, both the business enterprise and the higher education sectors reported increases in R&D expenditure in 2017, compared to the previous year. Higher outlays on the recurrent expenditure triggered the higher R&D expenditure of €7.6m in business enterprise and €2.8m higher education. However, the capital expenditure for the business enterprise and the higher education sectors dropped by €0.9m and €2.1m, respectively.
The highest rate of R&D activity was recorded in engineering and technology which accounted for 45.7% of total expenditure, followed by natural sciences (22%) and medical sciences (16%). Moreover, the year-on-year comparison shows that the highest increase was registered in natural sciences (€3.7m), followed by medical sciences (€3.4m).
Each sector mostly funds its research, supplemented by foreign funds — €7.1m or 10.8% of the total in 2017 —, NSO figures underscore. In the business enterprise sector players chiefly use local business enterprise funds, the higher education sector applies general university funds, while the government sector utilises EU funds or direct government funds.
Men still outnumber women
Some 2,479 employees worked in the R&D sector, with 1,451 of them working part-time. The higher education sector employed 1,280 in R&D, while the business enterprise sector saw staff numbers reaching 1,117.
The researcher and technician roles were filled by men predominantly, while women outnumbered men in the support staff division. In total, women were still in minority with 34.7%.
Engineering and technology employed 806, while natural sciences and social sciences saw staff numbers reaching 607 and 450 employees, respectively.
The full report with charts and tables included is available for download through the NSO website.