Modern history has seen a global shift from industrious manufacturing to scientific and technological pioneering. Founders of the industrial revolution, the United Kingdom are now seemingly at the forefront of a research and development renaissance. With a shift from manufacturing to creation and innovation, the United Kingdom are determined to push the boundaries of discovery and have been striving to achieve this since the dawn of the R&D movement.

A pioneer of research and development is not a title which is unjustified. The level of effort and energy that is placed into research and development can be highlighted by the comparisons in expenditure between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Statistics from the OECD have unearthed interesting results about the spending breakdown between European countries on industries related to R&D, such as defence, health & environmental protection and public order & safety. The United Kingdom’s rate of expenditure for health comes in at 7.6 per cent of its total gross domestic product. When compared to the European average of 6.4 per cent, the UK is well and truly in the higher end of expenditure. The spending breakdown for environmental protection, defence and public order & safety also follow a similar pattern. Considering the progression of research and development hinges on funding and governmental support, it is clear to see how the United Kingdom has asserted itself as industry leaders for research and development.

Seeing the United Kingdom lead the way for investment into research and development may seem surprising, yet once these figures are held up against the manifestos from the most recent election, the results are not surprising at all. The country’s commitment to research and development can be seen throughout the manifestos of every political party proceeding this summer’s general election, with all the major parties having pledged to set aside a significant amount of funding for the cause of research and development, as well as schemes and programmes to offer businesses in this industry the level of support required. The main reason as to why these results are not surprising is largely down to the fact that the UK has increasingly prioritised research and development and its importance on the economy. This statement is echoed by Daniel Graves from the Office for National Statistics, who reveals the true extent behind the country’s view of research and development. “The government’s spending on science, engineering and technology has been growing over time, in real terms.” The evidence of the UK’s commitment to the R&D sector is one of the more predominant reasons as to why the United Kingdom have climbed to the very top of the research and development leader board. It is good news for businesses that reside in the research and development sector to learn that the government is buying into their projects and equipping them with the resources needed for them to be able to succeed and excel.

The infatuation with research and development seems to have appeared from absolutely nowhere. Having once been a country thatfocused all its energy and resources into manufacturing, the switch to research and development has been so seamless that it slipped completely under the radar. So when did this change take place? We have already learned that governmental spending on research and development has been consistently increasing, yet the fall in manufacturing can be dated back to 1998. With employment rates in the manufacturing industry falling at its fastest ever rate, this was accompanied by a rise in engineering, science and technology. The productivity in manufacturing had been steadily decreasing since 1993, whereas the United Kingdom had been continuously investing in engineering technologies throughout this period. This fall in productivity and employment and a rise in engineering technologies is the first piece of evidence that highlights the United Kingdom’s switch from manufacturing to innovation. The history behind the UK’s commitment to research and development has planted a solid foundation for this surge in the industry; this deep rooted relationship with the sector has enabled the United Kingdom to build a secure platform from which companies in the R&D sector can flourish.

For research and development in the United Kingdom, the future is bright. With a willingness to inject an above average amount of money into the industry, the chances of smaller companies succeeding in this sector are increased tenfold. The UK has created an environment for small and medium sized enterprises which should allow innovation and creation to peak, and there are no limits as to how big the industry can grow. With the majority of prospective students opting for degree courses relative to research and development, such as medicine, human biosciences and IT and computer science, the industry will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. There is an element of ‘full circle’ on display, as when the research and development sector booms, students capitalise on the industry through their degree choices. As a result, more opportunities are created through another increase in funding which accommodates for the desire to design and create, and the industry booms once again. All these elements, the level of spending, the governmental support, the increasing amount of opportunities, is why success stories of startups making it big are everywhere and it is why companies from all over the world are choosing the United Kingdom as their headquarters. This evidence alone highlights how the United Kingdom has established itself as the undisputed hub for research and development.

Not only has the United Kingdom provided funding for companies of all shapes and sizes, but they also have a tax relief scheme for companies in this industry to ease the financial strain on both up-and-coming organisations and well established businesses. For companies in the research and development sector, randd uk are ready and able to help any business with their R&D tax credits application. To find out more about our company or our services, contact us today on 01332 477 070 to speak to a member of our team.

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