Stats NZ: Businesses to carry out R&D despite COVID-19

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  • Research and development activity is expected to stay steady in the future despite COVID-19.
  • 41% businesses have planned to increase their R&D spend over the next financial year.
  • COVID-19 caused many changes in the way businesses work.

Stats NZ conducts the research and development survey in every 2 years. The survey polls the industry, government, and higher education sectors, but only the business sector is polled on its R&D plans for the coming fiscal year. The 2020 survey took place from August to December 2020.

Despite economic disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Stats NZ reported today that expectations for future research and development (R&D) activity are stable.

In 2020, 41% of firms expected to increase their R&D spending in the following fiscal year, which is consistent with the percentage recorded every year since 2010.

Source: © Vinnstock|

Businesses have carried through with their R&D plans, with R&D spending in the business sector growing year after year. Since 2010, the sector's R&D spending has more than doubled. Businesses in New Zealand spent $2.7 billion on research and development in 2020, compared to $2.4 billion in 2019.

A popular justification for companies to conduct R&D has historically been to gain access into new markets, but COVID-19 has had an effect on their R&D plans as well.

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Geraldine Duoba, industry statistics manager, stated that COVID-19 had prompted several changes in the way companies operated, including what and how they had produced it, as well as their R&D focus.

Business operation survey showed that firms expected R&D spending to rise

According to the Business Operations Survey 2020, 24% of companies that anticipated their R&D spending to be changed as a result of COVID-19, expected their R&D spending to rise. A shift in demand for existing goods and services was cited by 70% of the businesses as the reason for the same.

Source: © Jojojojo|

Stats NZ conducts a business operations survey that accumulates performance measures from NZ businesses to give a better insight into their practices and behaviours that may alter their performance.

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Business operation survey 2020 included questions on business operations, information and communications technology (ICT), and COVID-19. The survey period was from August to December 2020 about their response to COVID-19 in 2020.

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Some of the highlights of the survey results for 2020 included of the following:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic response, almost 50% of the businesses were listed as essential services.
  • 86% of businesses were operational (either fully or partially) during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 out of businesses that were listed as essential.

The survey revealed that more than 75% of businesses obtained financial assistance from the government.

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