R&D survey shows U.K. bucking slumping investment trends - Embedded.com

R&D survey shows U.K. bucking slumping investment trends

LONDON — The number of R&D-intensive, middle-sized U.K. companies has increased by more than 75 percent over the past four years, with an additional 100 U.K. companies with R&D investments over £300,000 ($535,273), according to the British Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) annual “Research and Development Scoreboard.”

The electronics and electrical sector's global R&D investment is up 5 percent over last year, but the U.K.'s has decreased by 6 percent.

The R&D Scoreboard is billed as the world’s only comprehensive international survey of industry R&D activity. This year's edition is the most detailed to date, showing investments for the top 1000 companies has improved over the last year with overall increases in sales growth, profitability and R&D.

Large, foreign-owned companies are increasingly recognizing the U.K. as a base for R&D. Twelve of the top 17 foreign-owned U.K. companies surveyed have much larger R&D enterprises than their parent companies, investing a higher proportion of their global R&D effort in the U.K., the survey found.

The U.K. software industry stood out as a leading sector with 117 of the U.K’s top 750 R&D companies listed with a contribution of 5.2 percent of total R&D investment. The pharmaceutical sector also increased its levels of R&D by 4 percent over the past year.

The electronic and electrical sector is the ninth-largest sector in the U.K., accounting for 3.4 percent of R&D investments. Globally, the sector is the fourth largest with 11.3 percent of global 1,000 R&D compared to 3.4 percent of the top 750 U.K. companies.

R&D intensity, or R&D as a percentage of sales, was 5.5 percent globally — the fifth highest of the top ten sectors. In the U.K., electronics and electrical accounted for 2.7 percent of the R&D total, the sixth largest among the top 10 U.K. sectors.Eighty-six companies from this sector appear in the global 1,000 and 61 appear in the U.K. 750 list. Six of the top ten companies in the sector are from Japan.

Electronics and electrical was the ninth-largest sector in the U.K.'s top ten, but the fourth largest globally. The U.K. sector is proportionately less than one-third the size of the global total. Within the top 20 U.K. companies, ten are foreign-owned.

The survey found 14 U.K. middle-sized companies (with sales between £25 million and £500 million) with R&D of 4 percent or more (three of these are foreign-owned); within the U.K. top ten, four companies had R&D intensity over 7 percent. These were: Agilent (21.2 percent), Renishaw (11.1 percent), Philips (8 percent) and Oxford Instruments (7.2 percent).

Siemens, Matsushita Electric and Sony are investing in the most in R&D, together account for 37 percent of the total. In the U.K., Invensys, Agilent and Philips accounted for 44 percent of R&D investment in the sector.

Lord Sainsbury, U.K. science and innovation minister, said, “It is encouraging that R&D-intensive, middle-sized companies are now found, not just in the sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, health and software, where the U.K. is traditionally strong, but also in IT hardware and electronic and electrical sectors where the U.K.’s presence has previously been low.”

Ranking of top ten Electronics & Electrical Companies by R&D Investment for the UK

Larger version of this table.

Ranking of top ten Electronics & Electrical Companies by R&D Investment globally

Larger version of this table.

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