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The world's number one choice

With a business climate that attracts companies from across the globe, the UK is Europe's top spot for R&D activity - and UK Trade & Investment is there to support them every step of the way

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 Development-related (R&D) inward investment. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government organisation that helps UK-based companies succeed in international markets and assists overseas companies 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 driven. Since 2005, R&D  by UKbased 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 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 up to 175% on qualifying current R&D spending.

New investment in the development of cutting-edge research facilities will help retain existing talent and attract scientists of international repute to the UK. In 2008, a programme of £397m was announced that will enable the UK?s Research Councils build new state-of-the-art infrastructure, redevelop existing facilities and provide worldleading research environments.

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 £14.5bn to exports in 2007.

Two of the world?s six 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 performance-managed infrastructure, and world-class expertise in experimental medicine. Around 35% of clinical trials of European biopharmaceuticals take place here.

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, highervalue energy, including low-carbon options. Globally, the UK is the most attractive destination for offshore wind investments and is in joint second position as an investment location for renewables.

Information and communications technologies 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. The other priority sectors are: creative industries, low carbon, advanced engineering, financial services, and defence & security.

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.

For more information, contact UKTI on:
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7215 8000


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 12 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 to give clients the best advantage.

For more information, visit:

Added the 23 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1

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Tags: British Innovation, trade, investment, R&D investment