R&D expenditure in Andalusia reached 1,627.2 million euros in 2020, which is 5.8% more than the previous year, the highest increase in the last decade. This figure places the region in third place nationally behind only Madrid (4,253 million euros) and Catalonia (3,619 million euros). This increase is the highest of all Spanish regions, followed by Murcia, with 5.5%, and the Community of Madrid, with 3.7%. The national average increase was 1.3%, 4.5 points below the Andalusian evolution. This is reflected in the report on ‘R&D Activities in Andalusia 2020’, prepared by the Regional Ministry of Economic Transformation, Industry, Knowledge and University through the Andalusian Knowledge Agency (AAC) based on data published by the National Statistics Institute (INE).
The increase recorded in 2020 improves by almost two points the positive evolution harvested also in 2019 when R&D expenditure rose by 4%. This is, therefore, two consecutive years of increases. Likewise, in the current legislature, taking as a reference the years 2019 and 2020, the average annual expenditure on R&D has been 1,582.8 million euros, while in the previous stage, between 2015 and 2018, this parameter stood at 1,434.6 million, which implies an average annual increase of 148 million euros.
This improved performance is largely due to the commitment of the regional government to reinforce and reactivate the Andalusian knowledge system, after almost a decade in which there have been significant falls in R&D spending, the most significant being the 10.19% drop in 2012 and the 7.90% drop in 2016. The Regional Ministry of Economic Transformation has injected a total of 308 million euros into Andalusian R&D&I, from the beginning of the legislature to the present day, through various programmes to support research careers, promote research projects and knowledge transfer, and promote the existing Campuses of International Excellence in the region, among others.
Once again this year, in Andalusia, most of the investment in research and development comes from the public sector (public administration and higher education), which continues to act as a driving force behind regional R&D investment. It contributes 63.53% of the resources invested, equivalent to 1,033.7 million euros, compared to 36.47% from the private sector, i.e. 593.5 million euros, which includes companies and private non-profit institutions (IPSFL). Moreover, this investment effort by the public sector increased last year by 5.87%, which is the largest increase in the last decade. The previous one took place in 2019, which means that the two largest increases in this area have occurred in the current legislature.
By differentiated sectors, in 2020 regional investment in R&D in the region was led by the higher education sector (universities and public research organisations), with 728 million and 44.7% of total expenditure. They are followed by companies, with 590 million (36.3%); public administrations, with 306 million (18.8%); and finally, IPSFL with 3.3 million (0.2%).
In terms of human potential in research, Andalusia continues to be the region with the third-highest number of people dedicated to R&D activities, reaching 25,908 (in full-time equivalence) between researchers and technical and auxiliary personnel. This indicator has increased by 4.17% in 2020 compared to the previous year and represents 11.18% of the total number of researchers in Spain. Most of these personnel work in the public sector (68.63%), essentially in universities, and the rest, 31.37%, in the private sector. There has been an upward trend in recent years in the number of researchers working in the private sector, with a year-on-year increase of 5.8%.