A study released by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute showed that Research & Development investments during Fiscal 2015 were $443.3 million, or to 0.43 percent of the island’s GDP. This represents a slight 1.3 percent drop compared to Fiscal 2013.
However, the third edition of the agency’s “Survey on Science and Technology 2014-15: Research and Development” showed that the private sector slightly increased its investment in R&D activities in Puerto Rico despite reductions in other sectors.
In 2014-15 private companies were responsible for 69 percent of gross investment in R&D in Puerto Rico.
Despite the overall increase in the private sector, the study revealed there has been a noticeable decline in industries with the greatest investment in R&D: Chemical and pharmaceutical companies ($113.2 million in Fiscal 2015, a decrease of 19 percent compared to 2012-13 in nominal terms), and agricultural biotechnology companies, which remained stable at $96 million). The fastest growing sector is the manufacturing of machinery and equipment.
Subsidiaries of companies from the U.S. and other countries remain the main players in terms of R&D investment. However, the total amount of investment funded by parent companies showed a slight drop (-2 percent), while funding by companies based in Puerto Rico or the subsidiary itself has increased by 30 percent, the study showed.
During Fiscal 2015, $126.8 million were invested in R&D activities in universities and other higher-ed institutions. This figure represents a reduction of 6.3 percent from Fiscal 2013, in nominal terms, the study showed. Federal contributions to R&D activities by universities in Puerto Rico were reduced from $92.2 million in 2012-13 to $ 84.5 million in 2014-15.
Meanwhile, investment in R&D by the public sector and nonprofit organizations (including hospitals) was estimated at $9.4 million in Fiscal 2015, 5 percent lower than that what was estimated in 2012-13.
It is estimated that during Fiscal 2015, there were 2,070 people in Puerto Rico working as researchers. If assistants and other support staff are added, a total of 5,500 people participated in R&D activities on the island, of which 52 percent were women.