British firms lag the world in R&D
Sep 21, 2001
Despite a 14% increase in R&D investment last year, British companies continue to lag behind their international competitors in terms of R&D 'intensity' - R&D spending as a proportion of sales. The world's top 500 companies increased their spending on R&D by 10% last year to $290bn (about £199bn), according to the latest R&D Scoreboard from the UK Department of Trade and Industry.
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.