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R&D investments up 3.3% in Puerto Rico, study shows

•Private companies are responsible for two-thirds of the gross investment in R&D in Puerto Rico.

• Private companies are responsible for two-thirds of the gross investment in R&D in Puerto Rico.

Investments made in Puerto Rico by companies performing research and development activities totaled $449.3 million in Fiscal 2013, up 3.3 percent in comparison to the total reported in 2009, the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute revealed.

The 2012-13 Science and Technology Research and Development Survey is the second survey of its kind conducted in Puerto Rico using internationally adopted definitions and methodological standards, the agency said.

This type of survey has been performed in other jurisdictions for decades to provide statistics to measure the amount of financial and human resources allocated to R&D. In Puerto Rico, the Institute had conducted an initial pilot survey for calendar year 2009 and the results were reported in 2011.

The survey’s findings include the following:

  • Private companies are responsible for two-thirds of the gross investment in R&D in Puerto Rico. In recent years they have increased investment in initiatives related to clinical trials or specialized development of pharmaceutical products and processes ($140 million in Fiscal 2013), in agricultural biotech companies ($96 million) and computer systems programming and design companies ($10 million), but was reduced in companies manufacturing machinery and equipment, as well as other sectors.
  • The subsidiaries of the U.S.-based companies, as well as those from other countries, are mainly responsible for R&D investments (82 percent of private investment), but the average size of firms active in R&D in Puerto Rico has changed. In 2009, companies with more than 500 employees were responsible for half of private investment in R&D, but for Fiscal 2013, 40 percent of the investment came from companies that have between 50 and 250 employees.
  • In Fiscal 2013, $143 million were invested in R&D activities in universities and other institutions of post-secondary education. This represents an increase of 8 percent compared to 2009, but down 14 percent from the $164 million estimated by the National Science Foundation for Fiscal 2011. The contributions by the U.S. government for R&D activities at the University of Puerto Rico have been reduced from $101 million in Fiscal 2011, to $ 66 million in Fiscal 2013. Two private universities, the Ana G. Méndez University System and Ponce School of Medicine, have increased their R&D investments to $18 million and $12 million, respectively, according to figures for Fiscal 2010-12.)
  • R&D investments in the public sector and nonprofit organizations (including hospitals) reached $10 million in Fiscal 2013.
  • In Fiscal 2013, there were 1,980 people in Puerto Rico who worked as researchers. Including assistants and other support staff, an estimated 4,800 people were involved in R&D activities in Puerto Rico. In other words nearly 5 per 1,000 employees, of which half were women. Since 2009, the number of research support staff decreased in almost all sectors.

“For a long time, the importance of the generation and novel application of knowledge in value creation in certain sectors and countries has been recognized. These types of surveys make it possible to define the profile of the entities that carry out R&D, making it easier to establish goals and devise strategies for its promotion,” Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi-Santiago said.

In 2008, the United Nations adopted new methodological standards for national accounting that incorporate, for the first time, the resources used to finance R&D activities as part of a country’s investment. To keep in line with international accountability standards, in Fiscal 2013, the Institute conducted the survey for the prior year, following the guidelines set forth by the sixth revision of the Frascati Manual (2002).

“We’re very pleased to have successfully steered Puerto Rico into meeting and having standardized statistics, this time in science, research and development, which can be compared with those of other countries and internationally,” said Marazzi-Santiago.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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