Business expenditure on research and development (BERD) has jumped by 15 per cent, reaching $14,380 million in 2007-08, according to statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Friday.
In a media release from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr welcomed the news with the following remarks.
It is good to see strong growth in business spending on R&D, especially after the setback of the late 1990s, when policy changes by the Howard Government caused spending to decline for the first time since records began.
But it is important to remember that 2007-08 was a boom year – it will be difficult to maintain this momentum through the global recession.
Now is the time to cement the gains in investment that flowed in the boom times and that is what the Rudd Government is doing.
The Government’s new R&D Tax Credit will boost investment, support jobs and strengthen Australian companies so that they can take advantage of opportunities as the economy recovers.
The Credit will provide more predictable, more generous and better targeted incentives, doubling the base level of support for small business and increasing the base level of support for all other businesses by a third.
Also, existing programs such as Enterprise Connect and new ones such as the Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute are designed to get more firms developing new ideas and turning them into money-making goods and services.
BERD as a proportion of GDP in 2007-08 was 1.27 per cent. While Australia is closing the gap, it is still below the OECD average of 1.59 per cent.
Manufacturing remains our biggest investor in R&D and accounted for 30 per cent of total business expenditure on R&D in the 2007-08 period.