Manchester, 4 April 2022 – R&D spending in the construction sector surged 18% last year to a new record high despite ongoing pandemic disruption, according to the latest ONS data analysed by innovation funding specialist Catax1.
The ONS published its Q4 2021 statistics for R&D spending last week, completing the full-year picture. R&D spending is important to the UK economy because it creates skilled jobs and helps UK firms compete for revenue and foreign investment in globalised markets, particularly where new technology is concerned.
The construction industry spent £471m on R&D in 2021, up from £399m invested in 2020. The increase came despite continued supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19. The quarterly total rose to £121m in Q4, also a record high.
R&D spending has continued to grow despite the pandemic, and was £121m higher during 2021 than its pre-pandemic total of £350m recorded in 2019.
The construction sector’s performance was significantly better than the performance of UK industry as a whole. Total R&D spending by UK businesses rose 5.6% to £42bn last year.
By comparison, GDP in 2021 was up 7.4%% on an annual basis according to the ONS2. The ONS R&D spending statistics don’t factor inflation, which was running at an annual 5.4% in December last year3.
Mark Tighe, CEO of R&D tax relief consultancy Catax, comments:
“Construction might have ground to a halt in the early days of the pandemic but the sector’s R&D spending has kept motoring. This is a very positive sign, particularly against the backdrop of big strides being made in innovation as the industry builds an eco future for housing and building.
“The UK is all about the race to net zero now and construction has a huge role to play.”