Technology-related research and development (R&D) spending last year made up 3.63 percent of the nation’s GDP, with most of it coming from private businesses, the Ministry of Science and Technology said yesterday.
The ratio of R&D spending to GDP has been setting new records over the past few years, rising from 3.09 percent in 2016 to 3.63 percent last year, the ministry said.
Last year, the nation’s overall tech-related R&D expenditure was NT$718.8 billion (US$25.96 billion), up by 8.8 percent over 2019, ministry data showed.
Among the total, 83.2 percent, or NT$598.2 billion, came from non-government sectors — such as higher-education institutions, non-profits and private enterprises — while 16.8 percent, or NT$120.6 billion, came from the government, up by 10.6 percent and 0.7 percent respectively, the data showed.
In 2016, non-government sectors contributed 78.6 percent to the nation’s total R&D spending on technology, while the government contributed 21.4 percent, the data showed.
Thanks to the nation’s success in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, its economic activities last year were not halted, the ministry said.
Rising demand for products related to 5G, artificial intelligence of things and remote operations have spurred the nation’s R&D in semiconductors, it said.
About 71.3 percent of last year’s spending, or NT$512.2 billion, was devoted to technical development, followed by 21.7 percent (NT$156.1 billion) to applied research and 7 percent (NT$50.5 billion) to general research, data showed.
“The business sector remains the main pillar of the nation’s research and development efforts. Its contribution to the nation’s total R&D spending has been exceeding 80 percent since 2018,” the ministry said.
The overall R&D workforce is also growing, with researchers making up 58.5 percent of the workers, followed by technical and support staff at 36.5 percent and 5 percent respectively, ministry data showed.
However, the R&D workforce is aging, with the number of personnel aged 45 or older rising over the past few years, the data showed.
The nation’s R&D funding and personnel are growing despite barriers presented by COVID-19, but there are still many challenges ahead in the post-pandemic era, the ministry said.
In related news, a bill on the ministry’s reorganization on Tuesday passed a third reading in the Legislative Yuan, meaning the ministry is to be restructured into a national science and technology council.
A bill for the establishment of a new digital development ministry also passed its third reading.
The ministry was known as the National Science Council before March 2014.
The ministry on Tuesday said that a council would be better equipped to facilitate interagency negotiation, and connect advanced research and industrial applications.
The new council is to be inaugurated in March, it said.
The council, to be comprised of tech leaders and representatives from various agencies, would be more beneficial for the nation’s development, former minister of science and technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
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