The top 1000 UK companies invested more than £25.3bn in innovation for products and services in 2009 according to the R&D Scoreboard published this week.
The R&D Scoreboard which reports on investment trends in the top 1000 UK and top 1000 global research and development players has returned encouraging results for 2009. The evidence that £25.3bn was invested by the UK top 1000 in technology, equipment and other capabilities for supporting future growth is a reassuring sign of defiance in pressured economic times. Although this figure represents a 0.6% decrease on 2008 the resilience of UK enterprises in continuing to provide for future competitive capability compares favourably with many European countries and reflects intentions for growth.
The year on year decrease was largely due to lower spend by firms in fixed line telecommunications, banking, aerospace and defence sectors. Although this might be viewed as disappointing in the UK second largest manufacturing segment (aerospace and defence coming just behind food and drink as the biggest manufacturing contributor to GDP) Universities and Science Minister David Willets was positive yesterday about the Scoreboard results and the work that government is doing to support further investment. “The Coalition sees technology and innovation as a key driver of growth. We have set our ambition on creating the most competitive corporate tax system in the G20 and will shortly be consulting with business on the taxation of Intellectual Property, the support that R&D Tax Credits provide for innovation and the potential for creating a Patent Box in the UK. All of these measures demonstrate that the Coalition is committed to making the UK the most technology-friendly country in the G20.”
Close investigation of the scoreboard does however reveal that over 80% of the total UK investment from the top 1000 companies came from the top 100 in that group indicating that it is still larger firms that lead on R&D investment with smaller companies either feeling unable to invest or not seeing the need. A representative from Barclays recently commented to TM that surprisingly few SMEs were taking advantage of the finance on offer to enterprise from the ban and that although they were doing what they could to open up access to finance SMEs were still being cautious. He did however add that surveys carried out by the bank across SMEs in the manufacturing sector indicated plans for investment in the coming year were significantly more adventurous.
Other key findings from the most recent R&D Scoreboard showed that 78% of global R&D occurs in five countries: the US; Japan; Germany; France and the UK and that the leading sectors for investment in innovation in the UK included automobiles and parts, software and computer services and technology hardware and equipment.