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Almost 400,000 employed by firms engaged in innovation in 2020, CSO says

7 Jun 2022

A lack of skilled employees was flagged as a factor in some companies’ ability to engage in innovation and R&D.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published new data on innovation in Irish enterprises in 2020 today (7 June). According to the findings, more than 372,000 people in Ireland were employed by companies engaged in innovation in 2020.

Devin Zibulsky, statistician in the CSO’s Business Statistics Division, said the findings are “based on a survey of the innovation and research and development (R&D) activities of enterprises employing 10 or more people from 2018 to 2020.”

The pandemic was a factor in many companies’ decisions to innovate, or not during the tumultuous year. More than 22pc of enterprises decided to introduce an innovation in response to the global crisis in 2020. By contrast, nearly 14pc abandoned or suspended an innovation due to the pandemic.

Larger companies with 250 employees or more were more successful in adding innovations into their operations.

The most common factor hampering innovation was having different priorities within the enterprise, followed by the lack of skilled employees, the lack of internal finance and high costs.

The total innovation expenditure by enterprises was €7.4bn in 2020 compared with €5.5bn in 2018. The main driver for the increase in innovation investment was a 100.6pc rise in expenditure for in-house R&D from €3bn in 2018 to €6.1bn in 2020. In all, most innovation expenditure (82pc) was for in-house R&D.

The bulk of that innovation expenditure (73pc) came courtesy of foreign-owned companies in Ireland.

The percentage of Irish enterprises active in innovation was 57.7pc in 2020 compared to the 2018 EU average of 50.3pc. (EU-wide data for 2020 is not yet available.)

According to Zibulsky, the CSO used the 2018 edition of the Oslo Manual’s definition of innovation to inform its research. The Oslo Manual defines innovation as a new or improved product, process, or combination of both that differs from previous products or processes and that has been made available to users or brought into use.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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