Foreign funding boosts UK science

November 26, 1999

Signs of growing interest in scientific innovation within industry have emerged in new figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

The number of scientists and engineers working in industrial research and development in 1998 rose to 92,000 across the country for the first time as the amount spent by United Kingdom businesses reached Pounds 10.2 billion.

This is in part due to increasing levels of foreign funding, which has offset a gradual drop in the availability of government funds.

The statistics indicate a steady decline in support staff, such as administrators and technicians, throughout the decade.

So while the number of scientists and engineers is now at its highest level since records were first compiled in 1991, the overall number of people employed by industry in the sector is still below that of the early 1990s.

Foreign investment in UK research reached Pounds 2.25 billion last year, 22 per cent of the total.

Throughout the 1990s, the portion of research finance coming from abroad has crept up, with European Union programmes accounting for a fraction of this.

This has been matched by a slow decline in the contribution to industrial R&D made by the UK government.

The amount invested by domestic industry has remained fairly steady through the decade at about two thirds of the total, Pounds 6.8 billion last year.

R&D expenditure now represents 1.2 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product, down from 1.4 per cent in 1991. Pharmaceuticals accounted for almost a quarter of the money, aerospace 10 per cent.

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