Brussels, 20 Sep 2004
The UK's Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, has distanced the UK from the EU objective of increasing research investment to three per cent of GDP by 2010, setting the country its own target of raising spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2014.
In making the announcement, Lord Sainsbury called on industry to match the government's efforts to increase research investment. Research spending in the UK currently stands at 1.9 per cent of GDP. Meeting the 2.5 per cent target will require an increase in real terms of 5.8 per cent per annum over the coming decade. Government funding is set to increase by that very figure, but a similar commitment is needed from business if the target is to be met. Between 1997 and 2002 the average real annual growth rate for business research spending was 4.1 per cent. An additional investment of 11 to 13 billion GBP (16 to 19 billion euro) is needed to bring that figure up to 5.8 per cent.
'We recognise that increasing UK R&D [research and development] from 1.9 per cent to 2.5 per cent of GDP is an ambitious target. It will not be met without significant investment from the private sector,' said Lord Sainsbury on 17 September. 'We want to start working with industry now on how this challenge can be met,' he added.
The European Commission's 'Key Figures 2003-2004' shows that the UK is below the EU average in terms of R&D investment.