Research and development (R&D) expenditure rose by £1.6 billion to £34.8 billion in 2017, an increase of 4.8%, which was above the long-term annual average increase of 4.1% since 1990.

Figures released this morning by the Office for National Statistics, showed that Total R&D expenditure in the UK in 2017 represented 1.69% of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 1.67% in 2016, but remaining below the European Union (EU-28) provisional estimate of 2.07%.

The UK ranked 11th of all EU countries’ R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2017.

Funding of UK R&D from overseas continued to fall for the third consecutive year to £5.0 billion in 2017, which was 10.2% lower than the peak in 2014 of £5.6 billion while the UK spent £527 on R&D per head of population in 2017, with England spending £554, Scotland £466, Northern Ireland £371 and Wales £238.

Mark Tighe, CEO of R&D tax specialists Catax might be of interest:

“UK firms have been holding their own on R&D spending since the Brexit vote and this is an impressive surge to yet another record high but foreign funding continues to drain away.

“It has fallen for the third year in a row, neatly aligning itself to the most politically unstable period Britain has experienced in decades, which cannot be a coincidence.

“Whether clarity around Brexit in the coming months reverses this trend is an open question but it is not in Britain’s economic interests to allow this deterioration to continue, even if we are edging ever closer to the government’s target for R&D spending to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027.”


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