The Government has set out an ambitious target of raising R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, but at its current pace of spending the UK it is set to miss the mark – by 26 years. This matters because it’s through R&D that we will tackle the most pressing issues facing society from climate change to the future of transport.
Currently, the UK’s R&D investment level lag behind top performing European countries like Germany, who only last week announced an extra £17 billion boost to R&D funding in the next decade. It’s time for concrete action.
Unveiling a major new report at the launch of the new £40 million Nexus innovation hub at the University of Leeds today, The Changing Nature of R&D, reveals how advanced data analytics is opening up a ‘new frontier’ for business R&D, which could help address this potential spending shortfall. Businesses are increasingly using data as key input in their R&D, and it’s opening opportunities across all sectors.
But among many companies, data is an underexploited asset because businesses are facing a range of challenges; from skills shortages to navigating funding support. It is therefore crucial that the policy and funding landscape evolves to keep pace with new innovation trends. This could help unlock £46 billion a year to the UK by 2020.
Felicity Burch, CBI Director of digital and innovation 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.”
CBI is calling on Government to:
- Act on its commitment to delivering the 2.4% target by publishing a comprehensive roadmap and setting out a long-term trajectory for government R&D expenditure.
- Make it easier for businesses to navigate innovation support, government should create a ‘digital one stop shop’ that clearly outlines and signposts the range of innovation support that businesses can access.
- Introduce new support for businesses to develop the capacities they need to understand and unlock value from their data.
- Deliver the world’s most competitive R&D tax credit by ensuring that it recognises the growing importance of data-driven R&D
Businesses are unsure of the value of data and how to exploit it
- Companies are currently only capturing a fraction of the potential value from data and analytics.
- Less than 10% of UK businesses use CRM to collect, store, and share customer information within their businesses.
- Only 4% of companies report having the right people, tools and data to be able to draw meaningful insights from data.
Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, at the University of Leeds, said:
“The CBI/Nexus report shows the extraordinary opportunities for UK businesses to harness data for R&D, as well as the vital role universities have to play in supporting innovation and productivity. Unlocking this potential will supercharge R&D and that’s why we’re making a step-change at Leeds in how we work with business.
“This is what Nexus, our innovation hub, is all about - giving businesses seamless access to this support. There has never been a better time for universities and businesses to collaborate to ensure we meet the 2.4% target.”