R&D spend increases for third consecutive year

Posted on 20 Nov 2015 by Fred Tongue

UK R&D spending has grown by 5% during 2014 and increased for three consecutive years, according to new figures released today by the ONS.

EEF has greeted the news positively, but has warned that cuts to government support for innovation in next week’s Spending Review could upset this encouraging trend.

Senior economist at EEF, Felicity Burch commented: “UK businesses have upped their investment in R&D for the third consecutive year as a result of ambitious business activity and improved government support.

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“This has led to strong job creation, with business employment in R&D up 7% over the year. Strong growth in expenditure was particularly notable in the transport equipment and electrical equipment sectors.

Burch continued: “However, today’s data does not change the fact that the UK still lags well behind competitor nations for R&D spend.

“As the economic outlook remains uncertain- particularly for the manufacturing sector- the Chancellor must get behind innovative businesses and maintain the breadth of innovation support provided by Innovate UK at next week’s Spending Review. Failure to do so risks Britain falling into the industrial slow lane.”

According to the EEF report, some aspects of the UK’s innovation system are already amongst the best in Europe.

The UK has a position of “international excellence” in science, producing 16% of top quality published research findings.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015, the UK has three of the top 10 universities in the world.

Manufacturers also rate the way the government treats R&D taxation as world class, with more than half of those who EEF spoke to saying that is as good as or better than- the competition.

Uptake of R&D tax credits has also increased recently as awareness of the incentives has grown.