4.3.2. Public innovation inputs
The figures for R&D personnel are positive, but those for expenditure are less so, a considerable distance from those for Germany
The second group of business environment indicators measures R&D capacity, both public (government and universities) and total. In other words, they also include those for the business sector, already described in the analysis of firm performance. Both are included to account for the possible distortion produced by computing the R&D investment for technology centres and CRCs as private. This explains why the relative positions in public R&D expenditure and personnel are lower than the total. Table 25 shows the position in the ranking for 2016, the last year for which there are comparable data for the European regions. However, Graph 20 incorporates data for 2017, a year in which we see a slight improvement in the values for both personnel and public and total expenditure. Total R&D personnel figures are considerably higher than the Spanish, European and even German averages, highlighting the positive levels in terms of human resources allocated to R&D. The same cannot be said of expenditure, which has been below the European average and a considerable distance from German levels since 2013.
The strong position in comparison with comparable regions and the positive trend in scientific publications in collaboration with foreign centres contrasts with collaboration with industry, where there is ample margin for improvement
Be that as it may, the increase in R&D expenditure seen in the Basque Country in 2017 closes the gap with the European average, but not with Germany, which increased R&D expenditure to an even greater extent. It is therefore necessary to consolidate this change in trend with regard to expenditure in order to create the conditions to show stronger performance in innovations which, due to the greater complexity of their knowledge base, are more difficult for competitors to replicate.
In line with the indicators on scientific publications presented above, in this report we have introduced several indicators which seek to measure whether scientific publications are being produced in collaboration with research centres abroad. The indicator calculated to determine this (percentage of publications with co-authorship at research centres abroad) shows positive growth, situating the Basque Country in a middle-to-high position among European regions as a whole, middle in comparison with the comparable regions and good when compared with the Spanish autonomous communities and cities. However, the situation is not as promising when we look at the indicator for publications in collaboration with industry. This indicator reveals ample margin for improvement, having fallen in recent years, and may constitute a path to facilitating the transfer of knowledge between the academic and business spheres.