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Research and Development funding for science and technology in the UK

Inquiry status: inquiry concluded

The Committee undertook the Government Horizon Scanning inquiry as a result of aspects of the call for evidence for Research and Development funding for science and technology in the UK.

The Science and Technology Committee commissioned the National Audit Office (NAO) to review Research and Development funding for science and technology in the UK: the NAO’s report was published on 10 July 2013.The NAO found that:

  • Between 1995 and 2011, overall annual spending on R&D increased in real terms by 37% (from just under £20 billion to just under £27 billion) and most of this growth was driven by UK businesses. However, spending declined between 2007 and 2010.
  • Between 1995 and 2011, the Government has progressively reduced the amount it spends on undertaking R&D itself through public research institutions but, at the same time, has increased the funding it provides to UK businesses.
  • UK business R&D spending is concentrated in a small number of very large firms, with the pharmaceuticals sector accounting for 28% of total UK business R&D spend. This sector is a key driver of innovation but the UK’s reliance on the sector is also a risk.
  • The UK receives a significant amount of R&D funding from the European Commission: between 2007 and 2013 the UK will have received around £4 billion from the Seventh Framework Programme.
    The Committee is seeking suggestions for future inquiries on UK R&D funding. Respondents are encouraged to comment on the NAO’s review of R&D funding as well as the 2010 and 2013 Spending Reviews. In addition, views on public sector research establishments (PSREs) would be welcomed, and respondents may be interested in the memorandum from the Government Office of Science to the Committee on public sector research establishments (PSREs) (PDF PDF 279 KB)

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