Report 2020–21

The Queensland Government reports its research and development (R&D) expenditure annually. Publishing this information is important because it:

  • provides Queensland with a longitudinal study showing research-related expenditure trends over time
  • identifies the fields in which the highest expenditure is made as well as the socio-economic outcomes of the research
  • ensures this expenditure reflects the government’s research priorities to improve the lives of Queenslanders
  • shows the valuable collaborations between government and partner organisations
  • shows how Queenslanders are benefitting from R&D activities.

Queensland Government R&D spend has been publicly reported since 2004.

View previous reports or the detailed data on the Queensland Government open data portal.

A shorter version of the data will be published biennially, with the alternate years’ publications being a more comprehensive report with case studies and highlights.

1. Defining research and development

For the purpose of this report, and in line with the guidelines provided by The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the definition of R&D used by the Queensland Government is:

‘…creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications’ (Frascati Manual, 2015).

To fall under this definition, and therefore being eligible as R&D, an activity must be:

  • novel
  • creative
  • uncertain
  • systematic
  • transferable and/or reproducible.

Some examples of R&D activities include (and are not limited to):

  • Laboratory research aimed at discovery of new knowledge.
  • Searching for applications of new research findings or other knowledge.
  • Conceptual formulation and design of possible product or process alternatives.
  • Evaluation of product or process alternatives.
  • Modification of the formulation or design of a product or process.
  • Design, construction, and testing of preproduction prototypes and models.
  • Design and development of tools used to facilitate R&D or components of a product or process undergoing R&D activities.

R&D excludes:

  • Market surveys.
  • Extension or commercialisation of R&D.
  • Routine computer programming and maintenance.
  • General purpose data collection using standard techniques without a research question.
  • Policy-related studies using existing methodologies.
  • Any other related activities that do not consist of elements of novelty or understanding causal relationship.

2. Key findings

Around $444 million was spent by the Queensland Government on Research and Development (R&D) in 2020–21. This represents an increase of 16% on 2019–20 where the total expenditure was around $380 million.

R&D expenditure for 2020–21 includes capital and current expenditure:

  • Capital expenditure refers to infrastructure spending such as buildings, land, and Equipment
  • Current expenditure refers to operational spending such as employee expenses, salaries, and other R&D related expenditure.

Approximately 94% of the total expenditure, around $416 million, was related to current expenditure.

Out of the $444 million that was spent on R&D, leveraged funds from external sources made up approximately $202 million or 45% of the reported expenditure. By comparison, in 2019–20 leveraged funds made up approximately $154 million or 41% of the reported expenditure.

The department reporting the highest R&D expenditure was Queensland Health totalling $152 million equivalent to 34% of the total R&D expenditure for the year followed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at $101 million. Queensland Heath and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were also the two highest spending departments in in 2019–20 at $125 million and $95 million respectively, or 32% and 25% of the total R&D expenditure for the year, and in 2018–19 at $113 million and $92 million respectively, or 31% and 25% of the total R&D expenditure for the year.

3. Queensland Government investment in R&D

Queensland Government investment in R&D

Queensland Government invests in research and development to:

  • inform decision making for the government, industries and community
  • create sustainable jobs for the future and drive innovation
  • prepare for the future by identifying and responding to emerging crises
  • prepare for future industries and forecast economic trends
  • improve efficiency and enhance competitive advantage
  • protect our natural environment.

4. Expenditure over time

In 2020–21, Queensland Government agencies reported spending $444 million on R&D, which represents a 16% increase from the previous year’s expenditure of $380 million.

The graph below shows the R&D expenditure by Queensland Government over the last 17 years. The large spike that began in 2008–09, peaked in 2010–11 (yearly expenditure of $701 million) and finished in 2013–14 was due to significant investment in four major research infrastructure projects. Institutions such as the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, and the Translational Research Institute are two examples of this capital investment.

Following said spike, R&D expenditure stabilised around $350 million. From 2015–16 onwards, R&D expenditure has been on a consistently increasing trend.

Total R&D expenditure
Year Total expenditure ($)
2004–05 $229,000,000
2005–06 $231,000,000
2006–07 $228,000,000
2007–08 $265,000,000
2008–09 $533,000,000
2009–10 $566,000,000
2010–11 $701,000,000
2011–12 $634,000,000
2012–13 $523,000,000
2013–14 $362,000,000
2014–15 $353,294,420
2015–16 $313,556,211
2016–17 $351,476,714
2017–18 $352,777,424
2018–19 $356,033,885
2019–20 $380,469,811
2020–21 $444,738,239

5. Capital vs current expenditure over time

In 2020–21, out of the $444 million spent on R&D by the Queensland Government, capital expenditure accounted for $28 million while current expenditure accounted for $416 million of the total budget.

Capital expenditure refers to infrastructure spending such as buildings, land, and equipment, while current expenditure refers to operational spending such as employee expenses, salaries, and other R&D related expenditure.

2009–10 was the first where capital and current expenditure were reported separately. Prior to this, they had always been reported as a combined total amount.

Capital vs current expenditure
Year Capital expenditure ($) Current expenditure ($)
2009–10 $222,900,000 $343,100,000
2010–11 $288,000,000 $413,000,000
2011–12 $213,200,000 $420,800,000
2012–13 $117,300,000 $405,700,000
2013–14 $9,800,000 $352,200,000
2014–15 $11,000,000 $342,294,400
2015–16 $22,300,000 $291,256,200
2016–17 $21,100,000 $330,376,700
2017–18 $9,706,238 $343,071,186
2018–19 $12,927,076 $331,106,809
2019–20 $13,759,337 $366,623,186
2020–21 $27,911,992 $416,826,248

6. Research location over time

The graph below reports the location where the R&D funding was spent as either in-house or external. In-house refers to R&D being conducted at Queensland Government sites. R&D activity occurring at non-Queensland Government facilities is categorised as external.

From 2004 to 2010, R&D carried out in Queensland Government facilities exceeded R&D at external sites. From 2010 to 2014, in line with the increase in capital expenditure, the trend shifted to having the larger porting of R&D expenditure being more at external sites. From 2014 onwards, the trend reverts to higher expenditure on in-house R&D activities.

Research location over time
Year In-house ($) External ($)
2004–05 $167,000,000 $62,000,000
2005–06 $166,000,000 $65,000,000
2006–07 $176,000,000 $52,000,000
2007–08 $176,000,000 $89,000,000
2008–09 $286,000,000 $247,000,000
2009–10 $312,000,000 $254,000,000
2010–11 $286,000,000 $415,000,000
2011–12 $238,000,000 $396,000,000
2012–13 $224,000,000 $299,000,000
2013–14 $73,000,000 $289,000,000
2014–15 $200,964,453 $152,329,967
2015–16 $183,956,190 $129,600,021
2016–17 $188,191,162 $163,285,552
2017–18 $206,004,019 $146,773,405
2018–19 $222,386,210 $121,647,675
2019–20 $250,942,219 $129,440,305
2020–21 $291,466,760 $153,271,480

7. Expenditure by agency

Queensland Government agencies reported spending a total of $444 million on R&D in 2020-21. The three agencies with the highest expenditure were:

  • Queensland Health—$152 million accounting for 34% of total R&D expenditure
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries—$101 million accounting for 23% of total R&D expenditure
  • QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute—$44 million accounting for 10% of total R&D expenditure
Expenditure by agency
Department Expenditure ($)
Queensland Health $152,757,745.67
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries $101,508,150.42
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute $44,556,330.00
Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport $30,998,028.89
Department of Transport and Main Roads $25,324,713.54
Motor Accident Insurance Commission $19,775,701.23
Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning $16,350,000.00
Department of Resources $15,649,034.00
Department of Education $15,415,359.17
Department of Environment and Science $10,300,904.90
Queensland Museum $6,389,208.00
Queensland Competition Authority $2,113,676.00
Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs $1,082,302.90
Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water $814,771.55
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services $505,000.00
Queensland Corrective Services $450,467.72
Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy $387,538.00
Department of Energy and Public Works $100,000.00
Inspector-General Emergency Management $95,097.00
Resources Safety and Health Queensland $65,405.98
Queensland Police Service $53,860.00
Department of Justice and Attorney General $44,945.00

8. Queensland Government vs leveraged funds by year

Queensland government funds are those spent directly from the state budget allocation. Leveraged funds refer to cash contributions from external organisations towards R&D projects funded or performed by the Queensland Government. The trend reported below shows that leveraged funds have often been slightly lower than Queensland Government investment. A significant exception to this trend occurred from 2009–10 to 2012–13, where leveraged funds were used for the construction of research infrastructure.

Queensland Government vs leveraged funds by year
Year Queensland Government funds ($) Leveraged funds ($)
2004–05 $168,000,000 $61,000,000
2005–06 $176,000,000 $55,000,000
2006–07 $174,000,000 $54,000,000
2007–08 $196,000,000 $70,000,000
2008–09 $385,000,000 $148,000,000
2009–10 $365,000,000 $201,000,000
2010–11 $295,000,000 $406,000,000
2011–12 $231,000,000 $403,000,000
2012–13 $203,000,000 $320,000,000
2013–14 $185,000,000 $177,000,000
2014–15 $179,988,045 $173,306,376
2015–16 $163,754,415 $149,801,795
2016–17 $175,888,951 $175,587,763
2017–18 $172,347,785 $180,429,639
2018–19 $161,664,458 $182,369,427
2019–20 $226,331,724 $154,138,087
2020–21 $242,383,617 $202,354,623

9. Source of funds in 2020–21

In 2020–21, out of the $444 million that was spent on R&D, Queensland Government leveraged $202 million 45% from external sources. Comparatively, in 2019–20 this figure accounted for $154 million or 41% of the yearly R&D expenditure.

Queensland Government’s funds include in-house, government bodies and statutory authorities, and other Queensland Government departments. External sources include funding from the Australian Government, universities, private non-profit organisations, overseas locations, other state/local government, other Australian locations, joint business/government organisations, and businesses.

Source of funds
Source of funds Expenditure ($)
Australian Government $49,558,756.48
Business $34,226,193.09
Government bodies and statutory authorities $27,005,202.37
In house $181,156,760.50
Joint business/government organisations $65,267,973.21
Other Australian locations $112,601.97
Other Queensland Government departments $23,453,271.20
Other State/Local Government $4,417,998.38
Overseas locations $8,813,754.77
Private non-profit organisations $12,006,211.85
Universities $26,451,133.29

10. Spending in relation to socio-economic objectives

Agencies classify R&D investment according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ socio-economic objectives. The objectives relate to the impact of the research and are standardised fields. The distribution of expenditure reflects the socio-economic focus of the government policy priorities at the time.

In 2020–21 the greatest reported expenditure was allocated to health objectives. This accounted for 52% ($230 million) of the R&D expenditure for the year and was mainly due to research around SARS-CoV-19. The second largest expenditure at 15% ($65 million) was for research on plant production and plant primary products followed by environmental management accounting for 7.5% ($33 million). This is in line with what happened in 2019–20 where health accounted for 53% ($203 million) of the overall R&D expenditure, followed by plant production and plant primary products at 18% ($71 million) and environment at 6% ($25 million).

Spending in relation to socio-economic objectives
Socio-economic objective Expenditure ($)
Health $230,046,818
Plant production and plant primary products $65,896,165
Environmental management $33,341,080
Animal production and animal primary products $25,404,819
Transport $24,311,368
Energy $19,142,554
Mineral resources (excl. energy resources) $13,083,984
Education and training $10,457,409
Expanding knowledge $7,939,257
Manufacturing $3,091,521
Defence $2,512,102
Economic framework $2,468,823
Culture and society $2,222,044
Environmental policy, climate change and natural hazards $1,653,435
Construction $1,155,527
Law, politics and community services $1,099,373
Indigenous $322,211
Commercial services and tourism $297,661
Information and communication services $292,088

11. Spending based on field of research

Similar to socio-economic objectives, fields of research are also defined by the Australia Bureau of Statistics. This categorisation of R&D activities is done following the methodology used—not the activity nor the purpose. In 2020–21 the top three reported field of research were: Biomedical and Clinical Sciences accounting for 28% ($125 million), followed by Health Sciences accounting for 23% ($102 million) and Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences accounting for 22% ($97 million). This shows that 73% of the total expenditure is concentrated in three of the 23 fields of research. This mirrors the highest spending agencies, namely Queensland Health, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. This trend is in line with what was reported in 2019–20 where Medical and Health Sciences account for 52% ($200 million) of the overall expenditure, followed by Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences at 21% ($23 million).

Spending based on field of research
Field of research Expenditure ($)
Biomedical and clinical sciences $124,983,908.96
Health sciences $102,762,141.41
Agricultural, veterinary and food sciences $97,689,541.97
Engineering $45,341,247.32
Environmental sciences $17,064,375.79
Earth sciences $16,163,821.71
Education $10,544,400.40
Psychology $7,441,812.69
Biological sciences $6,130,133.33
Information and computing sciences $5,729,827.52
Economics $2,771,740.66
Human society $2,316,206.62
Language, communication and culture $1,122,750.00
Built environment and design $1,095,892.00
History, heritage and archaeology $1,050,822.00
Physical studies $1,003,998.00
Mathematical sciences $637,640.12
Chemical sciences $419,033.47
Commerce, management, tourism and services $361,821.00
Law and legal studies $107,125.00

12. Spending based on state priorities

The chart below reports the weighted percentage of the state priorities for 2020–21. The highest percentage was found for ‘Backing our frontline services’ accounting for 22%, followed by ‘Protecting the environment’ at 15%, and ‘Safeguarding our health’ at 11%. The chart reports a more balanced distribution compared to 2019–20, where ‘Keep Queensland healthy’ accounted for 51 per cent of the total state priorities.

‘Other’ stands for projects that did not align with state priorities and in 2020–21 accounted for 13% of the overall projects. This represents a significant decrease from 2019–20 where ‘Other’ accounted for 31 per cent of the overall projects.

Spending based on state priorities
State priority%
Backing our frontline services 22.3
Protecting the environment 15.8
Growing our regions 15.2
Other 13.7
Supporting jobs 11.9
Safeguarding our health 11.2
Backing small business 2.9
Investing in skills 2.8
Building Queensland 2.2
Making it for Queensland 2.1