CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn has launched a new report, which ‘shines a light’ on the businesses across the UK that are undertaking pioneering research, development and innovation in areas from aerospace to agriculture.
She says the report — ‘Don’t wait, innovate’ — finds that not enough of this R&D is currently happening across the UK, “risking progress on achieving the target of 2.4% GDP being spent on R&D by 2027 and the longer-term aim of 3%.
The UK currently spends 1.7% of GDP on R&D — far below the 2.4% OECD average, and UK investment is particularly limited outside of the South East.”
The report says that just three regions account for 52% of UK R&D spend (London, South East and East of England) and that just five of the UK’s 40 sub-regions are ‘investing over 3% of GDP’.
It goes on to say that a greater focus on accelerating R&D investment in the worst-performing regions could provide a £7.3 billion boost to UK R&D spend, bringing the 2.4% target for R&D spend within grasp.
‘Don’t wait, innovate’ also argues that the UK must capture the benefits that flow from improving innovation-led growth across the country by creating a new regional network of Catapult Quarters.
“These would encourage industry to collaborate regionally on the key challenges that face our country — like clean growth, healthy ageing, the future of mobility and AI — with targeted and practical support.
Felicity Burch, CBI innovation and digital director (www.cbi.org.uk
), said: “For centuries, the UK has been a home for global innovation.
"Scientific progress has not only transformed our economy but also been the single biggest driver of productivity — and helped tackle some of our society’s biggest challenges; but with the continued political uncertainty and our competitors investing more in innovation, the next Government must re-launch the UK as one of the best places in the world to imagine, invest and invent.”
CBI recommendations for the next Government include: setting out a road-map for raising UK R&D activity within its first year of office; jump-starting innovation activity across the UK with new ‘Catapult Quarters’; and establishing robust methods for measuring impact and success.