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Investing in UK Research and Development

16 May 2018

There is broad consensus across the political spectrum to increase total investment in UK research and development (R&D). The Government has committed to meet a target of 2.4% of GDP invested in UK R&D by 2027, and a longer-term goal of 3%.

Increasing overall investment is the target. To deliver this, the UK’s Industrial Strategy will need to create a vibrant environment that fosters research and innovation throughout UK public services, universities and businesses and attracts global investment, incentivising companies to locate their R&D here. Only by doing this will we improve the health and wealth of the nation.

In 2016, £33.1bn was invested in R&D in the UK (up from £31.8bn in 2015)

Source: ONS

Here we outline the current investment landscape, why the 3% target is important for the UK and factors that should be considered to deliver it.

*Please note: This page was updated on 16 May 2018.

What is R&D? 

R&D is defined as creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. It includes basic research, applied research and experimental development. 

Innovation often draws on R&D, but R&D is not always part of the activity of innovation. An innovation is defined as the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations3.

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