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On the 2nd of September, the House of Commons Library and Georgina Hutton and contributing Authors, Chris Rhodes and Matthew Ward, released a report around Research & Development spending within the UK. The below is some of the key take outs from the report.

Moreover, the last few decades, the total R&D Investment has gradually increased. In 1986 the total R&D investment had reached £20.4 billion, and most recently in 2019, the investment had risen to £38.5 billion which is 1.74% of GDP.  The government has said that over the next few years, their goal is to reach 2.4% of GDP to go into R&D investment.

Subsequently, the business sector is one of the largest funders of R&D performed within the UK. In 2019, the business sector funded £20.7 billion (54%) of R&D. On the other hand, the public sector funding for R&D was £10.45 billion in 2019, 27% of the total.

How are the sectors performing?

When it comes to the sectors performing R&D, the business sector performed R&D worth £25.9 billion in 2019, 67% of the total. Most of the funding for this R&D came from the business sector. The higher education sector performed R&D worth £9.1 billion, 24% of the total. The public sector performed £2.7 billion of R&D in 2019, 7% of the total.

Additionally, R&D has contributed positively to employment as there were around 486,000 full-time equivalent R&D-related roles in the UK in 2019. Of these, 65% were researchers, the remainder were technicians and administrative staff that directly contribute to research. Around 56% of R&D roles were in UK businesses, 39% were in higher education (including graduate students), 3% in the public sector and 2% in private non-profit organisations.

In comparison to international expenditure, the UK R&D expenditure of 1.7% of GDP is below the OECD average of 2.5% in 2019. R&D expenditure in Germany was the equivalent of 3.2% of GDP in 2019, in the US it was 3.1% and in France it was 2.2%.

Click here for the full House of Commons Library report where you can read more information around total R&D, sectors funding R&D, sectors performing R&D, R&D by region, R&D employment, international comparisons and top R&D performing companies.


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