The UK motor industry’s spending on research and development has hit an all-time high of £3.7bn, the latest ONS data has revealed.
Automotive businesses increased their spending on research and development by £154m, according to the latest statistics for 2018. This was a rise of 4.3%, taking it to an all-time high.
The sector’s R&D spending has grown 225% from £1.2bn over the past decade, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Cataxx shows.
The motor industry is one of very few UK sectors to have enjoyed almost uninterrupted growth in R&D spending since 2007. Spending dipped from £1.16bn in 2008 to £1.04bn in 2009 during the credit crunch, but it has grown every other year.
R&D spending by the ‘motor vehicles and parts’ sector totalled £3.6bn in 2017 and £3.4bn in 2016.
The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%.
The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.
Mark Tighe, chief executive of Catax, said: “The motor industry is a mainstay of UK manufacturing, and it is wonderful to see such robust growth in research and development.
“Apart from 2009, the motoring sector’s R&D spending has grown every year, something that few other UK industries can boast.
“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.
“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU. The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”
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