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Malta: Research & Development in 2021

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INDICATORI_DEI_SERVIZI_A_BREVE_TERMINE_Q12023_9.jpgIn 2021, total expenditure on Research and Development amounted to €99.9 million, or 0.7 per cent of GDP.

 R&D Expenditure

During 2021, an increase in total expenditure on R&D activities of €13.7 million, or 15.9 per cent, was registered. The Business Enterprise sector contributed 64.3 per cent to total R&D, whereas the Higher Education and Government sectors contributed 34.2 and 1.5 per cent respectively (Table 1, Chart 1).

The R&D expenditure was primarily dedicated to Basic Research, which accounted for 45.4 per cent of total R&D in 2021, followed by Applied Research (32.0 per cent) and Experimental Development (22.6 per cent) (Table 2). 

In 2021, all three sectors reported an increase in R&D expenditure compared to 2020. The higher R&D expenditure was mainly brought about by higher outlays in the Business Enterprise sector of €6.0 million and €3.5 million on Recurrent expenditure and Capital expenditure, respectively. The Higher Education sector also reported an increase of €3.4 million whilst the Government sector increased by €0.8 million. Labour costs represented 61.0 per cent of total R&D expenditure, followed by Other recurrent expenditure (23.8 per cent) and Capital expenditure (15.2 per cent) (Table 3, Chart 2).

In 2021, the highest R&D expenditure was recorded in the field of Engineering and technology, which accounted for 55.2 per cent of total expenditure, followed by Natural sciences (14.4 per cent) and Medical sciences (14.3 per cent). Most of the R&D activity in Engineering and technology and Natural sciences was undertaken by the Business Enterprise sector, whereas research in relation to Medical and Social sciences was mainly carried out by the Higher Education sector. Year-on-year comparisons show that the highest increase was registered in Engineering and technology (€8.3 million), followed by Medical sciences (€2.6 million) and Natural sciences (€2.0 million) (Table 4).


Each sector mostly funds its own research, supplemented by foreign funds. R&D in the Business Enterprise sector is mainly funded by local business enterprise funds, General university funds are directed to the Higher Education sector and Direct government funds service the Government sector. Foreign funds for R&D reached €6.1 million, or 6.1 per cent, of total funds (Table 5).

R&D Employment

In 2021, 3,087 employees were engaged in R&D work, of whom 1,799 spent a portion of their time on R&D projects, while the remaining 1,288 employees dedicated their entire working time to R&D projects. The highest R&D employment was registered in the Higher Education sector, at 1,549 employees, followed by the Business Enterprise sector, with 1,374 employees. Male employment was predominant among researchers and technicians. Females accounted for 36.0 per cent of total R&D employment (Table 6, Chart 3).

With regard to R&D employment by major field of science, in 2021, the highest employment was recorded in Engineering and technology with 1,027 employees, followed by Natural and Medical sciences with 688 and 559 employees, respectively (Table 7, Chart 4).

R&D Government Budget Allocations

The Government Budget Allocations for R&D (GBARD) for 2022 amounted to €37.1 million, an increase of €1.2 million when compared to 2021. The highest GBARD outlay was recorded in General advancement of knowledge: R&D financed from General University Funds of €29.8 million (Table 8).





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