British firms ploughed back just 2.1% of sales into R&D, compared to an international average of 4.2%. Only in three sectors - health (7.2%), aerospace (7.7%) and pharmaceuticals (14.8%) - does the UK have a higher R&D intensity than its competitors. In sectors such as engineering (1.3%), electronics (3.0%), and software (4.2%), meanwhile, British investment is well behind international levels.

Over a quarter of the US companies analysed have an R&D intensity greater than 10%, compared with just 4% of the UK companies studied.