The United Kingdom has notched up the lowest growth in expenditure on research and development over the past ten years among the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations, according to figures out this week.
In its annual Forward Look report on spending and policy on science, engineering and technology, the Government says that among G7 countries, the UK's gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) by Government, industry, higher education, charities and others was Pounds 14.6 billion, making it an "average performer" in G7.
However, the actual amount has not been rising at as great a rate as in some other countries. GERD increased by 18 per cent in real terms over the period 1985-94, a little less than in Italy and far behind Germany (45 per cent); France (47 per cent); Canada (48 per cent); United States (30 per cent) and Japan ( 93 per cent). The private sector contribution to the UK's total spend in 1994 at nearly 70 per cent was larger than in any of the other G7 countries except Japan.
The Government spends around Pounds 6 billion a year on science, engineering and technology and during 1996/97 about Pounds 2.3 billion will go on research and training carried out in universities and research council establishments. A similar amount will be spent by the Ministry of Defence. A further Pounds 1 billion will be spent by civil departments on applied research. Pounds 400 million is earmarked for the UK's contribution to European Union R&D.
Of the Pounds 2.3 billion spent during 1996/97, Pounds 1.3 billion will be farmed out by the research councils and Pounds 1 billion will be directed to universities through the higher education funding councils for infrastructure projects.