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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

DDEC says local companies have increased R&D

Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Cidre Miranda

By The Star Staff

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC) studied the status of research and development (R&D) activities on the island, and found that local companies have emerged as key drivers of growth on that front in recent years.

The survey includes how much the companies invest and the structure of local firms or subsidiaries that carry out R&D, indicating growth of over $130 million for a total of $445 million in 2022, compared to $307 million at the time of the previous survey.

For DDEC, the significant shift in the R&D landscape revealed by the survey underscores the potential and resilience of Puerto Rico’s business community.

In 2022, when R&D investment was $445 million, $174 million of that sum corresponded to local companies, representing 39% of the total investment, compared to only 30% the previous year. About 24% of investment in R&D comes from small (SME) companies with fewer than 50 employees, which highlights the significant participation of SME companies in research, development and innovation processes.

“The survey validates the DDEC’s strategy of promoting research and development in sectors linked to the knowledge economy. It also shows the relevance of this incentive in various economic sectors, such as technology and life sciences, among others,” DDEC Secretary Manuel Cidre Miranda said. “Increasingly, investment in R&D in areas of high added value is increasing, which confirms that Puerto Rico is moving from being a traditional manufacturer to manufacturing supported by the creation and commercialization of intellectual property.”

The study, conducted by university professor Dr. Manuel Lobato, identified an investment of $260 million in biotechnology, $79 million in the development of software, and $3 million in the development of artificial intelligence. Additionally, the study quantifies more than 3,000 employees linked to R&D activities in Puerto Rico, and 44% of those people are women.

“The diversification in the profile of entities with R&D activities reflected in the survey tells us that the strategic sectors we are betting on are growing and innovating,” Cidre Miranda added. “Puerto Rico’s economy is nourished and will continue to be nourished by integrated business, government and academic efforts to strengthen R&D and innovation activities. Investment in research and development is a priority of the DDEC to enact long-term economic development and continue to grow knowledge economy sectors.”

Humberto Mercader, the DDEC deputy secretary, emphasized that: “Measuring this activity is key to knowing where we stand and if the efforts we carry out have results.”

“Seeing the findings validates that the efforts being made are yielding results,” he said. “Greater investment in R&D represents greater opportunities to create valuable products and services, which in turn represent opportunities for increased exports.”

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