THERE is a record-breaking increase in human and financial resources supporting research and development (R&D) from 2015 to 2018, a study by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), the Philippine Statistics Authority and the University of the Philippines Los Baños showed.

DoST Assistant Secretary for Finance and Strategic Planning Maridon Sahagun reported that the number of R&D personnel has tripled, from a headcount of 25,000 in 2015 to 75,000 in 2018.

Sahagun said that in 2018, 46 percent of R&D personnel in the country were working in higher education institutions (HEIs), 72 percent of which were state-run; 18 percent were in government, and 2 percent were part of private non-profit institutions.

"Half of the R&D personnel in the Philippines in 2018 are researchers, one-third are auxiliary personnel, and the remaining 16 percent are classified as technicians," she said.

The National R&D expenditure, also known as the gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) more than doubled, from P21.9 billion in 2015 to P58.9 billion in 2018.

Sahagun noted that the ratio of GERD to the gross domestic product jumped from 0.16 percent to 0.32 percent within the three years. The majority of R&D spending came from the private industry at P31.6 billion, followed by the government (P13.5 billion), HEIs (P11.8 billion), and private non-profit institutions (P1 billion).

Science and Technology Chief Fortunato de la Peña welcomed the increase in the number of people directly involved in scientific research and development, as well as the increased spending for R&D. He said that his department has always been pushing for maximum economic and social benefits of science and technology (S&T) to the people.

"These R&D statistics are important in coming up with indicators that are globally recognized and serve as metrics to measure the country's progress in achieving economic and sustainable growth. I think the present improved infrastructure of S&T setup that we have is more inclusive and we have more institutions that are involved," de la Peña said.

The figures are included in DoST's compendium of S&T statistics that will be used as a reference tool especially in crafting policies and drawing R&D strategic blueprints to drive inclusive economic growth in the years ahead.

The agency also launched its 2019-2020 survey on R&D expenditures and human resources to look into how the pandemic has affected the country's R&D spending and employment of personnel in the field of S&T.