Invest for growth: raising the UK's R&D spend

Invest for growth: raising the UK's R&D spend

UK investment in R&D has stagnated at 1.7% of GDP for over 30 years


The UK is a world leader in R&D and now is the time to play to our strengths. Investment in R&D helps raise business productivity, create high value jobs and solve national challenges. But persistent low investment is holding back innovation and hampering productivity. It’s time for change.


The change we're calling for


We’re calling on the government to create the right conditions for raising R&D investment to 3% of GDP. The UK needs definitive plans on how to achieve this target, alongside practical funding support from government.

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    Develop a roadmap for how the UK will reach the 3% target

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    Increase funding of collaborative R&D through Innovate UK and catapult centres

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    Continue participation in EU Research and Innovation programmes


Why it's needed


Electric flight, 3D printing, precision medicine, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things, quantum technologies. Game-changing innovations like these will shape the course of the next decade. Many will improve lives in the UK and across the globe.

And at an organisational level? Productive, innovative businesses increase their competitive advantage, are more likely to export goods and services, and are more likely to do so successfully.

However, R&D investment has stagnated at 1.7% for 30 years at a time when the rest of the world is speeding up. Our stalling performance prevents UK businesses from taking advantage of the growth and competitive opportunities that arise from innovation.

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"The UK has always been home to great ideas, but for too long they have been developed, commercialised and adopted elsewhere first. At this moment of technological disruption, it’s time for the UK to put its money where its brain is."

Felicity Burch, Director of Innovation and Digital, CBI

Industry impact

The innovation factor

When it comes to the benefits of R&D, the numbers are hard to argue with. Businesses that innovate are more likely to experience boosts in growth, productivity and turnover.

  • 63% of the UK’s annual labour productivity growth 2000-08 was due to innovation.

  • Companies launching new products grow turnover by 10% in the following three years, compared to 5.8% for non-innovating firms.

  • Firms awarded with research grants grow their turnover and employment up to 28% faster than firms which did not receive grants.

Our progress and impact


The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all.  Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.

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Support the change

  1. Are you a business leader?


    Join the CBI

    Our members are our mandate, and the reason we’re the most influential business organisation in the UK. Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to keep R&D spend a priority on the government agenda.

    Find out more
  2. Are you a CBI member?


    Have your say

    With government committing to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, the CBI is investigating how government can support growth in business investment throughout the UK’s regions and nations. Share your views.

    Get involved
  3. Are you a policymaker?


    Make a difference

    This campaign is led by the CBI's Innovation and Digital team.

    Contact Felicity Burch, Director of Innovation, to find out about the progress UK business urgently needs to raise R&D spend and how you can support it.

    Contact us