CBI report says UK will miss 2.4% R&D spending target by 26 years

CBI urges the UK government to come up with a comprehensive roadmap for its R&D investment.Image: CBI urges the UK government to come up with a comprehensive roadmap for its R&D investment. Photo: courtesy of Prime Minister's Office/Wikipedia.org.

A new report released by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in collaboration with the University of Leeds’ Nexus estimates that the UK will miss its research and development (R&D) spending target of 2.4% of GDP by 26 years.

The CBI said that if the current rate of growth in R&D investment continues then it would be difficult for the UK to achieve the figure by the target year of 2027, as per the findings of The Changing Nature of R&D report.

The UK business organisation has urged the government to come up with a comprehensive roadmap and define a long-term trajectory for its own R&D expenditure in order to reach the target.

Furthermore, it said that the pace at which investment is made does matter as it is through R&D that most pressing issues faced by society, ranging from climate change to the future of transport, are tackled.

As of now, the UK’s R&D investment level is not on par with Germany and other top performing European countries, found the report. In contrast, it was only last week that Germany gave a £17bn fillip to its R&D funding for the coming decade, the CBI said.

The organisation said that The Changing Nature of R&D report shows how advanced data analytics is creating a ‘new frontier’ for business R&D, which could help tackle the shortfall in potential spending. Furthermore, the report found that businesses are increasingly leveraging data as a critical input in their R&D, which is opening opportunities in all sectors.

However, in several companies, data is being underexploited as businesses are facing a variety of challenges ranging from skills shortages to navigating support for funding, said the organisation. It is in this context that the organisation believes that it is essential that the policy and funding landscape transforms to match the pace of new innovation trends.

CBI digital and innovation director Felicity Burch said: “The Government must speed up its effort to hit the 2.4% target or the UK is at risk of falling further behind. Advanced data analytics are opening up a new frontier for UK R&D, to ensure we benefit we must have a comprehensive roadmap underpinned by a boost in public funding to spur growth in UK R&D investment.

“If the UK is to reap the benefits of the data revolution the Government’s roadmap must ensure that the R&D tax credit is modernised, that businesses are able to collaborate with universities on data, and simplify access to innovation support through a ‘one-stop’ shop.”

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