R&D expenditures in the UK grew 4.8% in 2017 to £34.8 billion ($45.9 billion), 7 basis points above the average annual increase of 4.1% since 1990. This figure represented 1.69% of the UK’s GDP, up 2 percentage points from 2016, but still below the EU’s provisional estimate of 2.07%.

The business sector spent £23.7 billion ($31.3 billion) on R&D in 2017, a 4.9% increase, and represented 68% of total UK R&D expenditures. The pharmaceutical product group within the business sector had the highest R&D expenditures in 2017 at £4.3 billion ($5.7 billion). The “miscellaneous business activities,” technical testing and analysis product groups spent £1.5 billion ($2.0 billion) on R&D, while £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) was spent on software development R&D.

Accounting for 23% of total UK R&D expenditures in 2017, the higher education sector spent £8.2 billion on R&D. The higher education sector had the fastest growth increase, rising 5.6%. London was the main R&D region in 2017, with the city spending £2.0 billion ($2.6 billion), representing 36% of the region’s total R&D expenditures.

Government R&D expenditures grew 1.1% to £2.2 billion ($2.9 billion), and the sector accounted for 6% of total R&D expenditures in 2017. Research Councils UK, a strategic partnership between seven UK research councils, spent £866 million ($1.1 billion) on R&D in 2017, a 3.5% increase.

The smallest R&D performing segment, the private nonprofit sector, increased R&D spending 4.4% in 2017 to £800 million ($1.1 billion). This sector accounted for 2% of total UK R&D expenditures.

Source: Office for National Statistics

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