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The biggest changes in the UK

Table 10 lists the 20 companies in the UK1000 that have increased their investment in R&D the most over the previous year. It is important to note that only 50% of these companies are UKowned, down from 75% last year, while three of the top five companies are foreign-owned. As in last year’s Scoreboard, GlaxoSmithKline comes out on top.

In an important change to last year’s Scoreboard, banks and aerospace and defence companies did not make the list. AstraZeneca, the UK’s second-largest investor in R&D, also failed to place this year. The biggest relative increase over last year is that of Bentley Motors, which increased its R&D investment by 119% (an equivalent of £125m). Other significant increases in R&D investment included:

  • Land Rover, which increased its investment by £87m, is, together with the performance of Bentley Motors, reflecting the comparatively strong growth in R&D in the automobiles and parts sector in 2009;
  • Reed Elsevier, which increased its spend by 56% (an increase of £64m), causing it to move from 19th to fourth place in the list of fastest-growing companies by R&D in the UK1000; and
  • Northgate Information Solutions, Sage and Symbian Software, which reflected the comparatively strong growth across the software and computer services sector.

In contrast, Table 11 lists the 20 firms in the UK that reduced their investment in R&D by the largest absolute amount over the last year. AstraZeneca, showing one of the bigger increases only last year, recorded the biggest drop in 2009. Its investment in R&D fell by £373m, yet AstraZeneca remained as the second-largest investor overall in the UK. BT continued its slide from last year, decreasing R&D spending by a further £90m. The company is almost solely responsible for the further drop in R&D spending in the fixed-line telecommunications sector in 2009.

Table 10: Biggest increases in R&D expenditure in the UK1000 (2009)

Other large companies, such as Airbus Operations and Royal Dutch Shell, also cut their R&D investment significantly. The two large mining companies in the UK1000, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, did not manage to replicate their large growth of 2008 and instead decreased their spending by £71m and £54m, respectively. Overall, more UK-owned than foreign-owned firms reduced their investment by a large absolute amount, a change from last year.

Table 11: Biggest decreases in R&D expenditure in the UK1000 (2009)