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UK telecoms industry makes greatest leap in R&D investment

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The latest data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) has put the telecoms industry as the fastest growing sector when it comes to research and development spend.

Businesses in the sector increased their spending on research and development by £192m to £947m in 2018, according to the ONS. This rise of 25.4 per cent is a four-year high. However, the sector is still some way off its all-time high of £1.5bn set in 2007, analysis by research and development tax relief specialist, Catax highlights.

Comparatively, the total spend on research and development by telecoms firms totalled £755m in 2017 and £797m in 2016. Investment in research and development is continually growing across the board in the UK, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — 5.8 per cent. Manufacturing was a key driver, with £16.3bn of spending, up 4.7 per cent, and pharmaceuticals maintained its lead with £4.5bn of research and development spend, a rise of 3.3 per cent.

The number of research and development staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3 per cent a year, to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, chief executive at Catax, commented: ‘The telecoms industry is extremely important to the UK strategically and it is reassuring to see such growth in investment. There is still some way to go if this investment is to recover to levels seen before the financial crash, however, and it is vital this happens if Britain is to continue to be a key technological player on the world stage. 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.’

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