From December 2014 until August 2015 Forschung Burgenland researchers teamed up with staff from the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland’s information & communications department to carry out a study regarding the R&D activities in Burgenland. The Burgenland region’s economic structure features mostly small and medium-sized enterprises. The region now faces the challenge to create jobs for highly qualified research, technology and innovation personnel. Throughout Austria, businesses finance about 70% of research and experimental development. The rather low public R&D funding further exacerbates attempts to attract enterprises engaged in research & development to the region. In addition to an analysis of the status quo regarding research, technology and innovation in the region, the study took a close look at the methodology applied in surveys regarding R&D carried out by Statistik Austria, a federal statistics agency. This was done in an attempt to improve the data quality that goes into such surveys so they can map relevant information as realistically as possible and in doing so improve the overall situation of research, technology and innovation in Burgenland.
The study focused on a quantitative survey carried out amongst enterprises in the region that was designed to analyze the research quota in Burgenland’s economic landscape. The stud group applied a two-phased qualitative Delphi-study in businesses with traditionally high research quotas to get an overall picture of the situation in the region. In addition to that, interviews that focused on the subject were carried out in public institutions.
According to the study’s results, the low R&D-quota of about 0.75% in Burgenland is owed to
1) bureaucratic red tape in the R&D projects’ application, controlling and documentation processes
2) little-known funding options
3) vague definitions of what R&D means &
4) the low research quotas in the tourism industry and in SMEs.
More than 80 % of the expenses for R&D in enterprises stem from industrial branches. Large enterprises use 57% of R&D funds in the state and stand out as the main contributors to Burgenland’s research quota. SMEs in the IT and service branches often show high R&D-intensities but only contribute to 15% of R&D-expenses, a key indicator with which the research quota is calculated (see fig.)
Seven companies that did not take part in Statistik Austria’s survey. Their cumulated R&D-related expenses came to 2.6 million in 2011. Had these figures been included in the survey, Burgenland’s research quota would have been slightly higher reaching 0.78%.
Implications for research and practice
Due to the high contribution to the R&D quota on industry level, the quota could be quickly improved by attracting more industry to the region. Here it should be considered if such an approach is expected to have a positive impact on the overall economic development of the region, especially in regard to the impact such moves could have on local SMEs. Since the research quota should only be viewed as input index focus should be put on increasing the region’s overall productivity and mentoring existing SMEs in increasing their R&D activities. This would allow them to build research activities in the medium term and provoke sustainable improvement of the R&D quota. Companies that have for one reason or another not yet applied for the research premium should be made aware of this option and thus be motivated to increase their R&D activities.