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Business Enterprise Research and Development - Summary, 2011

Released: 20 November 2012 Download PDF

Also in this release

Figure 1: R&D expenditure by businesses in the UK

Figure 1: R&D expenditure by businesses in the UK

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In 2011, total business research and development (R&D) expenditure in the UK, in cash terms, increased by 8% to £17.4 billion, compared with 2010. In real terms, R&D expenditure increased by 6% compared to 2010.

Since 1985 there has been a steady increase in R&D expenditure in cash terms. In 2011, £17.4 billion was spent on R&D performed within UK businesses. This is compared with £11.5 billion in 2000 and £5.0 billion in 1985. The 2011 estimate of £17.4 billion is an increase of 8% in cash terms compared with the 2010 estimate (£16.1 billion).

In real terms, the 2011 estimate of £17.4 billion is a 6% increase on the 2010 estimate (£16.4 billion) of expenditure on R&D performed in UK businesses. In real terms the general trend has also been one of an increase in expenditure since 1985 (£6.5 billion increase). 

Other key points from this release are:

  • Defence R&D expenditure increased by 10% in 2011 to £1.8 billion. This was mainly driven by government awarded contracts to UK businesses to develop aircraft, naval ships, submarines and their systems and equipment;

  • Total R&D expenditure represented 1.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is in line with previous years;

  • For the first time the ownership of businesses that perform R&D in the UK is split equally between foreign and UK owned companies.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This is the latest in a series of annual releases about expenditure and employment in R&D by UK businesses. The results are in respect of 2011. The source of the information is the Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD) survey. A quality report (126.8 Kb Pdf) for the BERD is available on the ONS website.

    This release reported business R&D performed in the UK irrespective of the residence of the ultimate owner. Overseas activities of affiliates of UK businesses are not included. Gross expenditure of R&D in the UK performed by all sectors of the economy (137 Kb Pdf) , commonly referred to as GERD, is reported separately.

  2. Further information and user feedback

    As a user of our statistics, we would welcome feedback on this release, in particular on the content, format and structure. For further information about this release, or to send feedback on our publications, please contact David Matthews:


    Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456756

    Research and Development Statistics,
    Room 1.362,
    Office for National Statistics,
    Government Buildings,
    Cardiff Road,
    NP10 8XG.

  3. Next publication

    Date of next Business Enterprise Research and Development publication: November 2013.

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  5. Pre-release access

    A list of the names of those given 24 hour pre release access (30.1 Kb Pdf) to the information contained within this summary is available on the ONS website.

  6. Quality

    More details can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information paper (126.8 Kb Pdf) on the ONS website.

  7. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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