3.5R&D personnel in business enterprises

By Felix Bracht (KU Leuven), Julie Delanote (KU Leuven), Machteld Hoskens (KU Leuven), Wytse Joosten (KU Leuven), and Laura Verheyden (KU Leuven).

In this chapter we give an overview of R&D personnel in business enterprises in Flanders. The numbers reported are derived from the R&D 2018 survey for business enterprises in Flanders.

It should be noted that only the R&D personnel numbers of business enterprises themselves are discussed here. The results of the collective research centers serving business enterprises will be discussed together with those of other non-profit institutions, such as government institutions, higher education institutions, and private non-profit institutions in a separate chapter on R&D personnel in non-profit institutions. Moreover, we only include persons employed in the enterprises themselves in our R&D personnel numbers. Those persons employed may be either persons on payroll or owners affiliated with the enterprises. Consultants embedded by enterprises in their in-house R&D have been surveyed in the R&D 2018 survey, but an overall estimate of their numbers is reported separately, as there may be overlap between the numbers for consultants and the numbers for own R&D personnel (e.g. in groups those consultants may be employees of sister enterprises, and the persons in case may be counted twice: as consultants in one enterprise and as own R&D personnel in the enterprise where they are on payroll). We follow the recommendations of OECD and include in our main indicators of R&D personnel only numbers of own R&D personnel.

In chapter 3.5.1 R&D personnel of business enterprises in Flanders is broken down by economic sector. Two types of economic sector breakdowns are considered: the economic sector for which those R&D activities are performed (named “product field” in Eurostat publications) and the economic sector of the main activities of the enterprises performing them. Sometimes the main activity and the product field of enterprises differ. For example, some enterprise groups have their R&D activities conducted by head offices or by separate R&D service centers. The main activities of those separate entities are then “head office” or “R&D services” respectively, but the product field of their R&D activities then corresponds to the branch in which the group is active (e.g. pharmaceutical industry, manufacturing of soaps and detergents, car manufacturing, …). In both classifications four sectors account for roughly two thirds of the total R&D personnel in business enterprises in Flanders: Chemical/Pharmaceutical industry (NACE 20-21), Movie and music business/Telecom/ICT/Engineering/Technical tests/R&D (NACE 59-63, 71-72), Computer/Electronic and optical products (NACE 26-27), and Machines/Vehicles (NACE 28-30).

Chapter 3.5.2 presents R&D personnel of business enterprises in Flanders by enterprise size. By comparing with the numbers for R&D expenditure broken down by enterprise size, one can see that R&D in large business enterprises is capital intensive, as the expenditure for in-house R&D per R&D employee in large business enterprises is more than double the rate that is observed in micro enterprises (0 to 9 employees) and small enterprises (10 to 49 employees).

Chapter 3.5.3 presents R&D personnel of business enterprises in Flanders by a broad typology of R&D activities of those enterprises (top 50; remaining enterprises with permanent R&D; enterprises with occasional R&D; all other enterprises not yet included in the register of known or assumed R&D performers). The top 50 R&D performers account for roughly one third of the total R&D personnel by business enterprises in Flanders, and the remaining business enterprises with permanent R&D activities account for roughly half of the total R&D personnel by business enterprises in Flanders.

Chapters 3.5.4 and 3.5.5 describe the R&D intensity of business enterprises in Flanders in terms of personnel, by considering the share the R&D personnel represents in the total personnel. In chapter 3.5.4 the results of R&D intensity as share of total personnel contributing to R&D are broken down by economic sector. Again, two types of economic sector breakdowns are considered: the economic sector for which those R&D activities are performed (named “product field” in Eurostat publications) and the economic sector of the main activities of the enterprises performing them. In both breakdowns, R&D intensity in terms of personnel is highest in the same three sectors as when we look at R&D intensity in financial terms: Chemical/Pharmaceutical industry (NACE 20-21), Movie and music business/Telecom/ICT/Engineering/Technical tests/R&D (NACE 59-63, 71-72), and Computer/Electronic and optical products (NACE 26-27). In chapter 3.5.5 the results of R&D intensity in terms of personnel (i.e. the share of R&D personnel in total personnel) are broken down by enterprise size. It can be seen that especially micro firms with fewer than 10 employees are relatively R&D intensive, i.e. even though in absolute terms their contribution to the total R&D personnel of business enterprises in Flanders is low, in relative terms, roughly 30% of their total personnel actively contributes to their R&D activities.