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Economy Economy

Ensure we meet OECD average for investment in R&D within 10 years

Last updated: 02:35pm 26 September 2019

…and ensure further growth so that overall, as a nation, we meet the current OECD average for investment in R&D – that is, 2.4 per cent of GDP – within ten years, with a longer-term goal of three per cent.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.19

Our verdict

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international forum which promotes democracy and the market economy, and provides a way to compare and coordinate economic policies across developed countries. According to OECD data, in 2016, the UK spent 1.6% of GDP in research and development (R&D), against an average of 2.4% in developed countries. Current UK R&D investment is funding innovation and technology projects, from energy to robotics. This is a pledge to raise gross R&D investment to the OECD average.

In November 2017, the government launched its Industrial Strategy, announcing that total R&D investment will be raised to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, with a focus on supporting research in artificial intelligence, data science, clean growth, mobility and elderly care. Nevertheless, the latest OECD data, covering 2017, reveals that gross R&D investment remains at 1.6% of GDP

The government is funding innovation projects across a range of policy areas, and you can check progress on those here on Policy Tracker! However, with an objective set for 2027, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a manifesto promise which it is literally impossible for this government to fulfil in its term of office. That said, to meet the OECD average will require an increase in R&D investment over the period 2017-2027. As yet, there is no evidence of any increase, so for now we’re giving this a status of ‘not started’. We’ll keep tracking the OECD data releases, so follow this policy for updates.

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