The UK?s continuing reputation for innovation and the strength of its knowledge-based economy is clearly demonstrated by its standing as Europe?s leading recipient of Research and Developmentrelated inward investment. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government organisation that helps UK-based companies succeed in international markets and assists overseas companies to bring high-quality investment to the UK.
Quite simply, the UK is the place in Europe that the world?s companies choose for their R&D activities. R&D investment into the UK grew by 83% in the year 2007-2008 and over two-thirds of all inward investment projects were innovative or knowledge driven¹. Since 2005, R&D investment by UK-based firms has risen by 9% to a total of £21bn. The UK government has built a business climate to attract individuals and companies at the leading edge of their sectors and from which they can go on to achieve a wider global impact. It has continued to make investments in facilities, services and infrastructure and also to ensure that the UK?s business and regulatory environment lets innovators bring new technologies to market.
The government is committed to bringing down trade barriers and providing generous tax credits and capital allowances, where large and smaller companies are entitled to deductions of 125% and 150% respectively on qualifying current R&D spending.
Public-funded R&D investment reached $5bn in 2005. New investment in the development of cutting-edge research facilities will help retain existing talent and attract scientists of international repute to the UK. Earlier this year, a programme of £397m was announced that will enable the UK?s Research Councils to build new state-of-the-art infrastructure, redevelop existing facilities and provide world-leading research environments.
Projects that have already got the go-ahead for funding include the re-development of a new Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge and a centre to develop new imaging technologies at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The government is forward-looking and determined to work together with industry, and its partners in the public and private sectors, to ensure that all available resources are used to their full potential.
UK-based researchers are already involved in many exciting projects and it is essential that their capabilities, access to facilities and achievements are well promoted. As a part of this, UKTI has prepared strategies to showcase and market the potential of the UK in selected key sectors. For example, one key sector for the UK is Life Sciences and 23 Nobel prizes have been awarded to UK-based scientists in the last 40 years in the field of biomedical research alone. The government is committed to ensuring the UK is the world?s best destination for investment in the sector. The pharmaceutical industry contributed over £12bn to exports in 2006 on an R&D investment of £3.3bn.
Two of the world?s five largest pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline are based in the UK, with many others having research or European headquarters activities here. The UK has a substantial drug development pipeline based on a positive approach to clinical trials, a robust regulatory regime, a performancemanaged infrastructure, and world-class expertise in experimental medicine. Around 35% of clinical trials of European biopharmaceuticals take place here.
AstraZeneca developed Nolvadex in the UK and GlaxoSmithKline Augmentin. Pifzer developed Viagra and Eli Lilly Zyprexa. Of the UK, Andrew Hotchkiss, Managing Director, Eli Lilly UK, said: ?Even though the UK represents only about 3% of the global pharmaceutical consumer market, in terms of influence prestige and presence it carries much more weight than that. The science base here is world class.?
The UK energy sector is thriving, but to enhance its competitive position and enable it to become more international it has been pinpointed as a priority sector. The UK Energy Excellence marketing strategy examines global energy challenges to 2030 and highlights the opportunities for the UK to make a leading contribution to innovation and expertise in the need to supply better, cleaner, higher-value energy, including low-carbon options.
Globally, the UK is the most attractive destination for offshore wind investments and it is also in joint second position as an investment location for renewables. Japanese company Sharp first opened its north Wales site in 1984 to make video recorders and microwave ovens, but today the Wrexham site specialises in photovoltaic products for the expanding European market. Site General Manager Gordon Butler said: ?It?s hard to imagine being able to set up this site without the skilled workforce we had readily to hand. We also benefitted greatly from the other organisations based locally and the fact that there is such a strong optoelectronics industry here in north Wales.?
Information and communications technologies (ICT) are a further priority sector where UK innovation has been historically outstanding and still continues to make an enormous impact as the rate of technological change accelerates. As an investment location, the UK represents around a quarter of the global broadcast and media technology market. There are over 8,000 industrial electronics companies in the UK and the UK is at the forefront of electronics design.
Cambridge Display Technology is the world?s leading developer of technologies based on polymer light-emitting diodes, which are set to replace existing display technologies in information management, communications and entertainment. The company started as a spin-out of the University of Cambridge and is now part of the Sumitomo Chemical Group of companies. The other priority sectors are: creative industries, life sciences, climate change, advanced engineering and financial services.
UKTI has a worldwide operation supported from the UK by teams of experts in specific technologies and industry areas which work to provide tailored business solutions and practical support to international companies considering R&D in the UK. UKTI provides potential investors with information on the expertise and leading-edge technologies available in the UK?s universities, the UK?s private and public-sector research organisations, the Research Councils, Knowledge Transfer Networks and Innovation Relay Centres, R&D collaboration opportunities across the UK, and policy initiatives and opportunities introduced by national and regional government organisations across the UK.
UKTI also helps businesses by providing customised information on key UK commercial considerations, such as company formation, the labour market and skills, real estate, transport, utilities and regulatory issues, advice on financial assistance (including R&D tax credits and grants support), and comprehensive national, regional and local location analysis to help companies choose the right place to do business.
Our worldwide teams work closely with investment agencies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help our client companies maximise their business and R&D objectives.
1. UKTI Inward Investment Report July 2008 available from the UKTI website: www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk
UKTI is the Government organisation that helps UK-based companies succeed in international markets. We assist overseas companies to bring high quality investment to the UK?s vibrant economy. For more information, contact UKTI on:
Tel: (0)20 7215 8000 Website: www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk
The European Business and Innovation Centres (BIC) Network provides business support for innovative small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and entrepreneurs across the European Community and is well represented in the UK.
UK BICs work with local development agencies and in partnership with regional, national and international organisations ? including UKTI ? to undertake collaborative working, exchange of best practice, technology transfer and SME internationalisation. They offer strategic guidance for innovative projects, including incubator and business resource centres dedicated to innovation.
In the UK, there are 11 accredited full members of the European BIC Network, along with several associate members located from Northern Ireland to Kent, where world-class business support and facilities are available.
For more information, visit: Website: www.ebn.be