UK funding in R&D plunges in blow to ‘science superpower’ plan


Britain’s plan to develop into a post-Brexit “science and expertise superpower” has suffered a big setback after a fall in analysis and growth funding of just about a fifth since 2014, in line with a report.

The Institute for Public Coverage Analysis mentioned the UK’s share of worldwide funding in R&D initiatives – together with in well being and life sciences – had fallen sharply from 4.2% eight years in the past to three.4% in 2019 instantly earlier than the Covid pandemic struck.

The decline comes regardless of successive prime ministers speaking up funding as a central plank of their development methods, from David Cameron selling life sciences because the “jewel within the crown” of the British economic system to Boris Johnson’s push for the nation to be a post-Brexit “science superpower”.

Rishi Sunak pledged this yr, throughout his time as chancellor, to spice up private and non-private sector funding in R&D as a central solution to improve the productiveness of the British economic system.

The UK ranks eleventh within the Organisation for Financial Co-operation and Improvement group of rich nations for complete R&D funding as a share of GDP, nicely behind comparable wealthy international locations such because the US, Austria and Switzerland.

The IPPR mentioned that, had the UK’s 2014 share of worldwide R&D funding been maintained, it will have been £18bn – or 26% – increased in 2019.

In line with the centre-left thinktank, Britain would want to take a position an extra £62bn this yr from private and non-private sources to match Israel, the worldwide chief for R&D expenditure.

The UK’s lacklustre efficiency in sustaining its rating for funding in science, expertise and innovation comes regardless of successive cuts within the headline charge of company tax, which have been designed to encourage firms to put money into Britain.

Enterprise funding has additionally faltered for the reason that 2016 Brexit vote amid heightened political and financial uncertainty dealing with firms. Funding fell additional throughout the Covid pandemic, and continues to be 8% under the place it was earlier than the well being emergency struck.

Hypothesis is mounting earlier than subsequent month’s autumn assertion that Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, may reduce the federal government’s R&D price range as a part of efforts to search out financial savings after the disastrous mini-budget.

The federal government had set a goal for complete R&D funding – from private and non-private sources – to achieve 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Complete expenditure by the state and firms investing in analysis in Britain was £38.5bn in 2019, or about 1.7% of GDP.

Warning in opposition to cuts to public sector funding, the IPPR report discovered that state funding fuelled personal sector funding. It mentioned that if the federal government invested an extra £1bn in R&D, personal sector traders would contribute an additional £1.4bn over 10 years.

It mentioned if ministers wished to pursue a development agenda, investing in well being sciences could be considerably more practical than decreasing company tax. No sector invests extra in R&D globally than life sciences.

Shreya Nanda, an IPPR economist and the report’s creator, mentioned: “There was a managed decline within the UK over the previous decade – a decline in our economic system, our well being and our resilience.

“R&D innovation is an important lever in responding to this decline. We urge the federal government to extend R&D funding to revive the UK’s main international place, encourage personal sector funding and finally ship financial development.”


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