14/08/2001

UK R&D spend is below European average

The latest figures on research and development (R&D) spending shows that the UK lags behind the European average and falls well below the US.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed that the UK spent £16.7 billion, equivalent to 1.83 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research and development in 1999. However, in the same period the average European Union spend on R&D was 1.85 per cent of GDP.

The UK figure compares even more poorly with the USA where £163.9 billion, representing 2.65 per cent of GDP, was spent on R&D.

In the UK almost 68 per cent of total R&D was undertaken by business compared to the 20 per cent carried out by the higher education sector and the seven per cent that was carried out by government.

UK government expenditure on R&D peaked in 1981 when, at 1999 prices, spend was put £7.6 billion. Since then there has been a gradual downward trend.

In 1999, 38 per cent of government spending on R&D was defence related down from 44 per cent in 1991.

Within the UK, spending on R&D was highest in the South East region accounting for just under £4 billion (2.82 per cent of regional GDP) and lowest in the North East where it was £279 million (0.94 per cent of regional GDP).

Around 78 per cent of business R&D was carried out in the manufacturing sector, while around 22 per cent was associated with the service sector.

The figures contained in an Economic Trends article, Research and Experimental Development Statistics 1999, define R&D as creative work which aims to increase knowledge within society. (SP)

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