The Office for National Statistics has just released its report on the UK’s research and development expenditure for 2017, and it’s pretty encouraging overall. The government’s aiming to boost R&D investment as high as 2.4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by the time we hit 2027, and progress is being made. It’s not happening as fast as we’d like to see, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Here are some of the main headlines from the ONS report:
Total R&D expenditure reached a respectable £34.8 billion in 2017. That’s up by £1.6 billion over the previous year. As a 4.8% increase, it shows that things have been generally speeding up. The long-term average annual release since 1990 has been 4.1%, so this is a pretty decent figure.
As a percentage of the UK’s GDP, total R&D expenditure for 2017 was 1.69%. That’s only a modest increase over 2016’s figure of 1.67%, of course. It shows how much ground we’ve still got to cover to hit the eventual target of 2.4% of GDP by 2027. It also puts the UK below the European Union’s provisional estimate of 2.07%.
To put that 1.69% figure in perspective, it means the UK ranked 11th in the world in 2017 for R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
For the 3rd consecutive year, funding from abroad for research and development in the UK dropped. The figure for 2017 hit £5 billion, coming in at 10.2% down from its 2014 peak of £5.6 billion.
2017 saw the UK spending a grand total of £527 on research and development projects and activities per head of population. Breaking that down by region, we see England spending £554 per person, followed by Scotland with £446, Northern Ireland with £371 and Wales with £238.
As for what this all means in real terms, UK business are continuing to pull their weight on the R&D front. The country’s business sector spent £23.7 billion on innovating in 2017, which is 4.9% up from 2016’s figure of £22.6 billion. Pharmaceuticals R&D pumped out the most expenditure, at £4.3 billion, with vehicles and parts coming in second with £3.6 billion.
All told, 68% of all UK R&D spending came from the business sector, and RIFT is proud to help and support innovative businesses of all sizes. Putting our expertise to work, we’re enabling UK companies to pinpoint all their qualifying projects, activities and expenditure. R&D Tax Credits claims can be complex, but our specialist teams are making sure businesses always get the very most from their innovations. As more and more people come to understand our message about the importance and value of R&D tax relief, RIFT is reaching out further than ever before. From forward thinking start-up SMEs to established firms with RDEC claims to make, we’re proud to help businesses recognise their true value and be rewarded through the R&D tax relief scheme.
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