Nation Spent 3.5% Of GDP On Tech R&D

Spending On Technological Research And Development (R&D) In Taiwan Totaled Nt$660.8 Billion With A Record Ratio To GDP Of 3.5 Percent

Nation Spent 3.5% Of GDP On Tech R&D
By Lin Chia-nan

The Ministry of Science and Technology said on Friday, while sounding the alarm about the nation’s aging research population. Of last year’s spending, NT$540.7 billion came from the private sector, up 8.1 percent from 2018, while NT$120.1 billion came from the government, up 3.7 percent from 2018, ministry data showed.

The ration of tech R&D to GDP has been increasing annually, from 3 percent in 2015 to 3.5 percent last year, the data showed. Private-sector R&D has focused on improving manufacturing processes and developing new products, while the government and educational institutions have pursued cutting-edge research and innovation, especially those related to the government’s “5 plus 2” innovative industries plan, the ministry said.

The “5 plus 2” industries are intelligent machinery, an Asian Silicon Valley, biotechnology, green energy, national defense and aerospace, innovative agriculture and the circular economy.

Of the total spending, 70.3 percent (NT$464.7 billion) was spent on technical development, followed by 22.7 percent (NT$150 billion) on applied research and 7 percent (NT$46.1 billion) on basic research, the data showed.

Spending on basic research has risen compared with 2018 (NT$44.9 billion), but declined compared with 2017 (NT$46.6 billion), 2016 (NT$46.8 billion) and 2015 (NT$47.2 billion), the data showed.

The ministry acknowledged that the ratio of basic research to overall spending is lower than in most other countries, including those of similar scale to Taiwan.

Singapore in 2018 allocated 23.84 percent of spending on technological R&D to basic research, the ministry said, citing data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Main Science and Technology Indicators.

In the same year, South Korea allocated 14.21 percent to basic research, followed by Japan at 12.57 percent and Israel at 10.41 percent, which were all higher than Taiwan’s 7.29 percent and China’s 5.54 percent, the data showed.

To increase Taiwan’s basic research capacity, the ministry, apart from seeking more funding, would draft a plan to encourage businesses to allocate more effort to the area, it said.

The ministry said that it is concerned about the rate at which the nation’s research population is aging.

Researchers aged 55 or older made up 8.8 percent of the research population last year, up from 7.1 percent in 2015, while those aged 45 to 54 made up 17.7 percent, up 16.5 percent from 2015, the data showed.

Those aged 35 to 44 made up 34.7 percent of the research population last year, down from 35.5 percent in 2017, while those aged 34 or younger made up 38.9 percent, down from 42.1 percent in 2015, the data showed.

The ministry has budgeted NT$1.8 billion next year for programs to cultivate young talent and would make a bid to balance the age groups through other means, it said.

The ministry said that the post-COVID-19 era might pose additional challenges, but the government would continue to promote the “5 plus 2” innovative industries.

It said it would also promote an additional six core strategic industries: information and digital technology, cybersecurity, biomedical technology, defense and aerospace technology, renewable energy and strategic stockpile industries.

This news was originally published at Taipei Times

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