New data released today demonstrates a worrying trend. Private research and development (R&D) investment fell by 0.4% in real terms to £49.9 billion in 2022 compared to 2021. This drop comes at a time when the Government is trying to ramp up R&D investment as its central plan for economic growth.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “Today’s new data paints a worrying picture. Private R&D expenditure has only grown marginally since 2018 where it was £46.9 billion and in recent years has actually dropped in real terms. If the Government is truly serious about regaining the nation’s status as a science superpower, it’s vital that we become an even more attractive and competitive place for R&D intensive industries to do business. We need to see a genuinely transformative step change in the levels of private R&D investment.”

Marshall continued: “A more research-intensive, innovation-led economy would give the UK a globally competitive advantage, drive economic growth across the UK and also deliver a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society. For every £1 spent in R&D, £7 is made in economic and social benefits from helping to attract investment, boosting productivity and creating new jobs. The power of investing in UK research simply cannot be underestimated.”

Marshall concluded: “We need a clear strategy and a suite of measures to raise the UK’s attractiveness as a place to perform and invest in R&D. Government investment has an important catalytic effect to attract greater private investment. It’s time to act now. We are calling on the Government to use next week’s Spring Budget to step up if it is to meet its own goal of becoming a true Science and Technology Superpower.”