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Telecoms sector R&D spending surpasses £1 billion

Megan Robinson
November 22, 2021

The Telecoms industry now makes up 3.8% of total UK R&D spending

The Telecoms sector’s annual R&D spending has risen 4.5 per cent to just over £1bn, according to ONS figures.

Analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows spending has reached a nine-year high as spending across UK telecoms businesses climbed £44m in 2020, rising for three consecutive years.

However, the telecommunications industry hasn’t grown its R&D spending at all over the last decade, as spending has shrunk by 8.9pc since 2010 when it recorded £1.13bn.

Across all sectors, R&D spending in the UK grew 3.5pc last year to £26.9bn, rising 67.9pc in ten years.

The number of those employed by UK businesses in R&D roles climbed to 283,000 full-time equivalents, an 83.8pc rise since 2010.

Catax CEO Mark Tighe said: “The telecoms sector is an unusual outlier in R&D terms. It has not grown its innovation spending at all in the past decade, which is alarming even if it has outperformed in growth terms over the past year. 

“Things have been improving since 2018, however, and with 5G infrastructure, gigabit and satellite broadband demanding so much attention, the stronger growth of the past few years should continue to push R&D spending to new highs.”

The government has set a target to bring UK R&D spending up to 2.4pc of GDP by 2027, increasing on the 1.7pc of GDP it is currently running at.


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