UK engineering companies last year spent half as much on research and development as their international competitors.
Although R&D spending rose 12% in the UK engineering sector, it rose faster elsewhere.
The only star in the sector was Invensys, formerly BTR Siebe, which spent 5.9% of sales on R&D in 1998, compared to a sector average of 1.6%. The figures are part of the Department of Trade & Industry’s annual R&D scoreboard.
One of the UK’s best-performing sectors was aerospace, where 5% R&D spending put it higher than the world average of 4.4%. Automotive firms invested the same proportion of sales on R&D as their international competitors, while the electronic and electrical sector trailed by 3.2% to 5.3%.
Industrialist Norman Price, on secondment at the DTI, said: `There is still a question about whether enough British companies are sufficiently committed to growing into the large, technology-based companies of the future.’