The UK chemicals sector has increased its annual spending on research and development by 3.4% – its highest for seven years, latest data from the Office of National Statistics has revealed.
Sector businesses managed a combined growth in R&D investment of £175 million, contributing to an overall total of £5.36 billion for 2018.
This is significantly close to the all-time record £5.43 billion achieved in 2011, according to analysis by R&D tax expert Catax.
Chemicals made a key contribution to the grand total for UK industrial investment across all sectors for the year, which grew £1.4 billion to reach £25 billion — an increase of 5.8% since the previous 12 months.
Manufacturing was acredited with £16.3 billion of R&D spending and an increase of 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group and notched £4.5 billion of R&D spending, up 3.3%.
Catax chief executive Mark Tighe said:
“The chemicals industry is on a war footing when it comes to keeping Britain at the forefront of this crucial sector.
“The industry reached its all -ime high for R&D spending in the depths of the last great recession and is again demonstrating that economic uncertainty thanks to Brexit won’t put the shutters on innovation.
“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.
He added that the rate at which UK businesses were adding R&D staff to the workforce remained impressive, nearly matching 2017 with a rise of 7.3%.