Brussels, 20 Nov 2002
The provisional results of the 2001 bi-annual update to Portugal's scientific research and development (R&D) statistics show a sharp rise in the level of private sector investment in research since the last report in 1999.
The figures produced by the country's Science and Technology Observatory show that, since 1999, the increase in research spending by Portuguese business corresponds to an annual growth rate of 28 per cent. This increase has raised the private sector's contribution to total national R&D spending to 32 per cent, up from 23 per cent two years earlier, but still some way below the EU average.
Human resources within the private sector were also strengthened by a 17.4 per cent rise in the number of full-time researchers in the same two-year period.
Within educational institutes and private not-for-profit organisations, which together are the source of 46 per cent of Portugal's total annual R&D funding, annual investment growth has slowed considerably to levels of four per cent and three per cent respectively.
Most worryingly, public investment in research has fallen by six per cent since 1999, and the levels of human resources in the public sector have stagnated with only a slight growth in the number of researchers over the two-year period.
When these results are compared with figures for the EU as a whole, it is evident that Portuguese rates of growth in research expenditure and human resources are higher than the EU averages at seven and six per cent respectively. However, with total research spending at 0.83 per cent of GDP compared with the EU average of 1.9 per cent, Portugal have a long way to go to catch up, and even more must be done to try and meet the Lisbon goal of three per cent by 2010.
The gap is less wide in terms of human resources, given Portugal's overall growth rate of six per cent per year in this area. If such growth can be maintained, the gap between the national figure of 3.4 researchers per thousand individuals and the EU average of 5.3 per thousand should continue to close.
For further information on Portugal's R&D spending, please consult the following web address: http://www.oct.mct.pt