British business lags behind in research investment

British businesses are not willing to invest in UK research, claims Oxford University professor Louise Richardson, who has called for the situation to change.

She said UK firms lag behind competitors in France and Germany, and that under-investment in the UK has a knock-on effect on overall productivity.

Her calling follows news announced today that a huge Oxford innovation fund for graduates – totalling nearly £600 million – comes from just five investors: three from China, one from Singapore and one from the Middle East.

Elsewhere, Chancellor Philip Hammond pointed out that French workers produce more in four days than UK workers do in five – a phenomenon experts are putting down to lack of investment.

They further say that if workers in the UK become more productive, employers can afford to pay them more, their living standards increase, and the Government gets more tax revenue.

And while Mr Hammond’s recent Autumn Statement pledged an extra £2 billion a year by 2020 to R&D, Professor Richardson says British businesses are not playing their part.

“It does speak to the disappointing investment by British industry in research and development. We are way below our competitors in France and Germany and below the EU average,” the professor said.

“In fact, 40 per cent of the Research and Development (R&D) spend in the UK is by subsidiaries of foreign companies. British businesses are very loath to invest and that really has to change.”