NZ R&D Statistics Revised!

Disclosure Statement: George promised you he wouldn’t bother you with the 2014 R&D Stats again but then, sorry, they revised them. And now he can’t help himself.We’ll keep it brief.

So, when I rhetorically asked who cares about the R&D Stats when they first came out I didn’t expect an answer. Even then it was clear that people in government were a little bit miffed about the way they turned out. Vote Science and Innovation has been rising steadily and yet the Survey showed a drop in government expenditure between 2012 and 2014. How could that be? They went looking for a reason.

And now they have found an extra $68m and 200 FTE in the government sector and published the revised figures. Basically that gets government expenditure in 2014 neatly over the 2012 figure but doesn’t make much of a difference anwhere else. All the other stuff I said about GERD and HERD and the OECD still holds.

I couldn’t help but wonder how this happened. It’s not a huge amount of money or so many people in the scheme of things but it seems a lot to miss in a survey like this, especially from within government. And where did they find it? Did they ring around and ask all the CRI’s if maybe they’d underestimated their spend? And maybe they could look behind the bike sheds for any staff they hadn’t seen for a while? I don’t think so. And then it occurred to me  – government sector, $60m or so turnover, 200 odd R&D staff, a good chunk of income from overseas…

I think they just might have missed ESR.

Well, it is tricky keeping track of the CRIs these days. Once we had 10. Now we have seven. ESR might have gone out and merged with someone between surveys and not told StatsNZ. Anyway, good to have them back and be able to say definitively that New Zealand government expenditure on R&D is increasing (but not at the rate of GDP).

(Photo ESR annual report 2014)

Note added May 2015 – I was wrong. It was Callaghan Innovation Research that got left out. So you have to wonder why a research organisation devoted to ‘accelerating New Zealand business’ get quite so much of its income from offshore.

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