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Cyprus lagging in research spending

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According to Eurostat, Cyprus spends far less on research and development than most other European Union countries, as just 0.85% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or €184.8 mln, went into research activities in 2020.

Although spending slightly more than in pre-coronavirus 2019, compared to €164.4 mln or 0.71% of GDP, the country spent significantly less than the EU average of 2.32% of GDP going into research.

Expenditure on research grew by 12.4% in 2020 compared to 2019. However, the share of Cyprus’ GDP attributable to R&D activities remains low compared to other countries.

Cyprus also has one of the highest average annual growth rates in research expenditure, amounting to 10.7% from 2000-2020, compared to 4% in the European Union during the same period.

The average share in the bloc is 2.32% (ranging from 0.47% in Romania, 0.66% in Malta and 0.71% in Latvia to 3.22% in Austria, 3.38% in Belgium and 3.49% in Sweden).

The private business sector is the largest contributor to Cyprus’ research activities, with a reported expenditure of €81.9 mln or 44.3% of the total in 2020.

Universities followed with €66.6 mln or 36.1%, private non-profit institutions €24.9 mln or 13.5%, and the public sector €11.4 mln or 6.1%.

Information and communication companies were the main contributors to the business sector, spending €47.0 mln.

The manufacturing industry (particularly the production of basic pharmaceuticals and preparations and the manufacturing of computers, electronic and optical products, and electrical equipment) made a significant contribution with €26.0 mln.

Public resources funded 23.0% of research activity in 2020 with €42.5 mln, compared to €36.8 mln or 22.4% in 2019, while €23.0 mln came from the public universities’ budget and €38.9 mln from external sources (including European Union funds).

Most of the research expenditure was concentrated in the field of sciences with €82.2 mln, while engineering absorbed €60.0 mln, social sciences €19.0 mln, medical sciences €9.6 mln, agricultural sciences €7.4 mln and humanities €6.5 mln.

The number of people employed in research activities was 4,196, compared to 4,082 in 2019.

In full-time equivalent terms, this number is estimated at 2,231 people, of which 877 or 39.3% were women, while 32.7% of the research workforce held a PhD.

In 2021, government budget allocations for R&D at an EU level stood at €244 per person, a 33% increase compared with 2011 (€184 per person).

The highest allocations were recorded in Luxembourg (€689 per person), followed at a distance by Denmark (€530) and Germany (€471).

On the other hand, EU countries with the lowest R&D budget allocations per person were Romania (€19 per person), Bulgaria (€24), Latvia (€45) and Hungary (€60). In Cyprus, it was a €100 per person.